Retrospective case series to identify the most common conditions seen 'out-of-hours by first-opinion equine veterinary practitioners

14 Nov 2020

Bowden, A., Boynova, P., Brennan, M. L., England, G. C. W., Mair, T. S., Furness, W. A., Freeman, S. L., Burford, J. H.

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Background

The study aim was to describe conditions seen ‘out-of-hours’ in equine practice.

Methods

This was a retrospective case series of first opinion ‘out-of-hours’ cases seen at two equine practices between 2011 and 2013. Data were retrieved on case presentation, diagnostic testing, treatment administered and outcome, and diseases categorised using a systems-based coding system. A hierarchical logistic regression, formulated using a generalised linear model, was used to identify clinical variables associated with a binary outcome of ‘critical’ cases (required hospitalisation or euthanasia or died).

Results

Data from 2602 cases were analysed. The most common reasons for ‘out-of-hours’ visits were colic (35 per cent, n=923/2620), wounds (20 per cent, n=511/2620) and lameness (11 per cent, n=288/2,620). The majority of cases required a single treatment (58 per cent, n=1475/2550), 26 per cent (n=656/2550) needed multiple treatments and 13 per cent (n=339/2550) were euthanased. Eighteen per cent (n=480/2602) of cases had a critical outcome. Increased heart rate at primary presentation was associated with critical outcome in both practices (Practice A, OR 1.07 (95 per cent confidence interval 1.06 to 1.09), Practice B OR 1.08 (95 per cent confidence interval 1.07 to 1.09; p<0.001)).

Conclusion

Colic, wounds and lameness were the most common equine ‘out-of-hours’ conditions; 13 per cent of cases were euthanased. Further research is required into out-of-hours euthanasia decision-making.