Inside AAHA: March 2020

AAHA Vice President Adam Hechko, DVM, discusses the value of having in-house diagnostic equipment, and how it can help provide better care and improve client loyalty. Also in this section, what every veterinary professional needs to know about the 2020 AAHA Anesthesia and Monitoring Guidelines, and an obituary for an AAHA past president.

View from the Board

Improve Service with In-House Diagnostics

Have you considered that your lab equipment provides more than just a diagnosis for a pet? Point-of-care diagnostics can provide not only improved care for sick patients but also a great bonding moment and experience with your clients.

As veterinary medicine continues to evolve, we find ourselves looking for ways to create bonds and memorable experiences with each family that we work with. Veterinarians are considered members of a service industry as much as a medical industry. The owner of a car dealership recently reminded me as I was purchasing a new car about the importance of service. I could have gone anywhere to buy my new car, but I went with the same car dealership that I previously have purchased four cars from. The reason that I return each time to the same dealership is the excellent service. This time, however, the service was not that great with the sales associate. The general manager of the car dealership saved the deal by focusing on exceeding my expectations and needs. Veterinary practices are compared to other businesses in the service industry, such as restaurants, sales departments, and Disney World. We must go beyond our medical training to create a memorable experience for our clients.

In-house diagnostic equipment, such as chemistry analyzers, CBC machines, and microscopes, allows us to provide excellent medical care to patients daily. In-house diagnostics provide peace of mind in a timely fashion to pet owners. Owners know they are helping to relieve pain and discomfort in their beloved pet companions as quickly as possible. In a world of instant gratification, in-house diagnostics can help ensure clients stay engaged. Clients are willing to drive across town and take time off from their own demanding and busy schedules because of the service they get for their cherished pets when in-house diagnostics are used. People are also willing to pay a premium to eliminate the time it may take to get an answer.

Next time you are looking to expand a service in your practice, consider the benefits that in-house diagnostics can provide for your patients and the loyalty of your clients. Diagnostic tests are only a stepping stone to allow you to build rapport with the client. When abnormalities are discovered in these tests, clients are more willing to allow advanced diagnostics to help their pets. The bonds of trust are solidified when you have an answer before they leave your office

Adam Hechko
Adam Hechko, DVM, is vice president on the AAHA board. A proud graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and an avid Buckeye fan, Hechko earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2006 following the completion of his undergraduate degree from the University of Findlay in 2002. Since 2006, Hechko has served as owner and medical director for North Royalton Animal Hospital, a four-doctor small-animal practice that includes a pet resort, daycare, and grooming in North Royalton, Ohio. Accredited in 2012 and named the AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year in 2015, the hospital hosts several community events each year, including a pet carnival fundraiser, a Christmas open house, and an Easter bone hunt. Each year, the practice also adopts a family in need for the holidays and offers regular pet-bereavement support groups and pet cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid classes.


CE Highlight of the Month: Veterinary Management Series: Culture, HR, and Marketing

Your practice’s culture affects everything from whom you hire to how you bond with clients. It affects your staff retention rate and your team’s overall wellbeing. It affects your bottom line.

Learn how to leverage a healthy culture to achieve success in all areas of your practice with Veterinary Management Series: Culture, HR, and Marketing.

Developed after surveying graduates of Veterinary Management Series: Practice Essentials, conducting educational surveys of AAHA members, and analyzing feedback from other management courses, this program provides education focused on the topics AAHA members asked for: practice culture, human resources, and digital marketing.

Led by industry experts and enhanced by case study work and team exercises, this program’s unique curriculum was designed to provide solutions to top practice management pitfalls. You’ll return to your practice ready to:

  • Improve practice culture and achieve team buy-in through engagement and motivation
  • Effectively perform and use employee evaluations
  • Recruit, train, and mentor a team of superstars
  • Create and effectively execute a custom digital marketing plan
  • And more!

Don’t miss the next session:

May 13–16, 2020 • Lakewood, Colorado

Visit for details and to register.

Remembering AAHA Past President William Sumner, Jr., DVM

On October 29, 2019, AAHA past president William Sumner, Jr., DVM, passed away just 12 hours shy of his 87th birthday.

After graduating from Cornell University’s Veterinary School, Sumner completed his military service at Fort Bragg and then joined the team at Greensboro Veterinary Hospital. As director of the practice, he ensured it became AAHA accredited. Throughout his career, Sumner served as president of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association and he represented North Carolina as a delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Sumner served as AAHA’s president in 1979–1980. His tireless work garnered him the AAHA Charles E. Bild Practitioner Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to small-animal practice.

Sumner inspired and mentored many veterinarians throughout his long career, and he was heavily involved in his local community. He will be missed.

AAHA Meetings and Events

Veterinary Management Series: Practice Essentials

Lakewood, Colorado | April 15–18

Early registration deadline: March 13

Veterinary Management Series: Culture, HR, and Marketing

Lakewood, Colorado | May 13–16

Early registration deadline: April 3

Last day to renew your AAHA membership!

June 30

AAHA Pack Trip

Jackson Hole, Wyoming | July 16–19

AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day

July 22

2020 AVMA Convention

San Diego, California | July 31–August 4

OSHA Safe + Sound Week

August 10–16

National Check the Chip Day

August 15

Fetch Kansas City

Kansas City, Missouri | August 28–31

Connexity by AAHA

Denver, Colorado | September 30–October 3

What Every Veterinary Professional Needs to Know About the 2020 AAHA Anesthesia and Monitoring Guidelines for Dogs and Cats

Pet owners’ trepidation about their pets being anesthetized is nothing new to the veterinary profession, and with good reason. There are no safe anesthetic agents and there are no safe anesthetic procedures—there are only safe anesthetists. It takes a village to emotionally, physically, and logistically prepare pets and their people for an anesthetic event, and the 2020 AAHA Anesthesia and Monitoring Guidelines for Dogs and Cats help your team successfully become that village.

Published in the latest issue of JAAHA, the 2020 AAHA Anesthesia and Monitoring Guidelines for Dogs and Cats help to make the anesthesia period as safe as possible while providing a practical, step-by-step framework for delivering anesthesia care before, during, and after the anesthetic procedure.

Anesthesia is not limited to the period when the patient is unconscious. Rather, it is a continuum of care that begins before the pet leaves home and ends when the pet is returned home with appropriate physiologic function and tolerable or no pain. These guidelines encompass three phases of anesthesia, from preanesthesia to the return home:

  • Phase I: Preanesthesia—Individualized anesthetic/analgesic plan and client communication
    • Evaluate the patient
    • Create an individualized anesthetic and analgesic plan
    • Communicate with clients regarding the specific pet and the procedure to be performed
  • Phase II: Day of anesthesia
    • Communicate the steps required to provide a continuum of safe anesthesia through fasting
    • Educate clients about how to administer anxiolytic medication at home
    • Prepare equipment and the patient for surgery
    • Formulate and administer individualized anxiolytic, sedative, anesthetic, and analgesic medication combinations
    • Provide conscientious monitoring and patient support before, during, and after anesthesia
  • Phase III: Return home
    • Provide recommendations for anesthesia discharge forms and client communication

These guidelines will help you and your team partner with your clients to ensure pets undergoing anesthetic or sedation events are safe from doorknob to doorknob, assuaging client fear, mitigating team stress, and decreasing complications in your practice. They include the following helpful tools and more:

  • Roles and responsibilities for the entire team
  • Process checklists
  • Troubleshooting algorithms
  • Technique illustrations

The 2020 AAHA Anesthesia and Monitoring Guidelines for Dogs and Cats are supported by generous educational grants from IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Midmark, and Zoetis Petcare. Access them at

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