Survey on conduct of anaesthetic monitoring in small animal practice in the UK

09 Nov 2019

Richardson, E. M., McMillan, M.

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An online survey was used to investigate current anaesthetic monitoring practices and the confidence level of personnel monitoring anaesthetics in small animal practices within the UK.


Veterinary surgeons (VSs), registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) and student veterinary nurses (SVNs) working in the UK were invited to participate in an anonymous, internet-based survey. To gather data, the questions used free text, multiple choice or scales measuring respondent attitude or opinion. No questions were mandatory and data were analysed with descriptive statistics or inductive thematic analysis.


524 valid surveys were completed and included in the data analysis (VS n=136, RVN n=307, SVN n=81). The results indicated mainly RVNs perform pre-anaesthetic monitoring equipment checks, set-up the monitoring equipment and monitor anaesthesia and are more confident than VSs monitoring anaesthetics. VSs, RVNs and SVNs were all recognised to interpret and address changes in parameters monitored. Critical tasks pertaining to anaesthetic monitoring are being performed by personnel other than a VS, RVN or SVN. Respondents recognised the importance of monitoring in relation to patient outcome; however, a considerable proportion of respondents indicated that improving standards of monitoring was not a priority in their practice. Most respondents felt that standards of monitoring could be improved and that financial constraints were the major factor limiting improvement. Most respondents felt they would benefit from further training in anaesthetic monitoring.


Variability exists in how anaesthetic monitoring is conducted. Workplace pressures afflicting veterinary staff can influence the conduct of anaesthetic monitoring and initiating change within a veterinary practice can be difficult.