Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is driving measurably improved patient outcomes in human medicine and surgery. Evidence Based Veterinary Medicine (EBVM) is having a parallel impact on diagnosis and treatment in both large animal and pet animal veterinary practices.
EBVM is all about making the best decisions and learning from them for the future. Evidence-based decisions draw on the practitioner’s clinical expertise, the most relevant academic sources and research, the individual animal’s history and on the values and expectations of the animal’s owner.
Evidence will be gained from the ailing animal and from careful questioning of the animal’s owner
It’s easy to see how this approach works when a vet is presented with a sick or injured patient requiring immediate attention. Evidence will be gained from the ailing animal and from careful questioning of the animal’s owner or keeper. Other resources and expertise can be gathered and combined with the vet’s own knowledge and skill to design the most appropriate course of action leading to a satisfactory outcome for all involved.
For most vets, maintaining and monitoring the health of well animals, rather than responding to emergency situations, makes up the greater portion of their daily round. Surveys by the Centre for Evidence Based Veterinary Medicine and Nottingham University showed that routine healthcare consultations account for one in three appointments in small-animal practices.
EBVM principles could have crucial benefits
The reason for healthy animals visiting a veterinary surgery include vaccination, parasite prevention, keeping an animal from coming into season (oestrus) or registering a new client animal – often a puppy or kitten. The CEVM found that applying EBVM principles to these everyday consultations could have crucial benefits to the continuing health and well-being of animal patients.
Non-emergency meetings provide a more relaxed and stress-free opportunity for veterinary professionals to gather evidence of an owner’s personal observations, values and expectations. It’s also an opening for the vet to discuss the range of expertise, laboratory resources and veterinary diagnostic tests available while the animal is well, and if the worst should happen.
An evidence-based approach requires a healthy, honest relationship between vets and pet owners. Reassuring owners that their vet has the support of a modern, well supplied and equipped veterinary laboratory will help build the bond of trust in which a pet owner or animal keeper is more likely to invest their own, critically important evidence.