Referring Vets’ Expectations of Equine Referral Centers

Strengthening referring vets’ and specialists’ relationships could help improve the referral process, researchers found.

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Referring Vets
Strengthening referring vets’ and specialists’ relationships could help improve the referral process, researchers found. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Your veterinarian is an integral part of your horse’s care team, and you value his or her opinion on how to keep your horse in the best health possible. But, at some point, your horse might need care that your primary practitioner can’t provide—maybe advanced imaging or colic surgery—or your veterinarian might want to have another professional take a look at a challenging case. At that point, they might send the patient to a referral center or specialist.

What do these referring veterinarians expect from specialists and referral centers, and what aspects of that relationship facilitate a positive outcome when sending patients to another vet?

Colleen Best, DVM, a PhD candidate in the University of Guelph’s Department of Population Medicine, worked with Jason Coe, DVM, PhD; Joanne Hewson, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM; Michael Meehan, BVSc, BSc (Hons), PhD; and David Kelton, DVM, PhD, MS, at Ontario Veterinary College to investigate interpersonal relationships between clients, veterinarians, and referral centers in equine veterinary practice. They shared some of the results of their study in a poster presentation at the 2015 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, held June 4-6 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Over the past several decades, there has been an increase in the number of referral centers and in clients’ access to them,” the group noted. This has affected the quality of care patients receive. Better access to such facilities, for instance, means more owners have opportunities to pursue treatments veterinarians can’t conduct in a field setting, have advanced imaging techniques performed, and more

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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