“But my dog just had bloodwork done two weeks ago. Can’t you get those records from my regular vet?”
These words are a common refrain at the emergency veterinary hospital. Concerned pet owners ask this question of us on at least a weekly basis. And I understand why. We’re all used to human healthcare where we can access our own medical records at any time, day or night, through an electronic portal. Unfortunately, veterinary medicine is often several years behind the human healthcare information technology curve. And if your primary care veterinary clinic isn’t open for business, there *probably isn’t any way for a separate emergency veterinary facility to access those medical records. But while that’s unfortunate, the reality is that unless your pet’s bloodwork was performed that very day, those records really won’t be helpful, and they certainly won’t prevent us from having to repeat tests.
If your pet is seeing us for an emergency condition, it’s essential that we check how your pet is doing right now – rather than review how he or she was doing one, two, or three weeks ago. Bloodwork and x-rays only serve as a snapshot of your pet’s health (pun intended) at the time they were done. Don’t get me wrong – it is nice to also have the diagnostic results from a couple of weeks ago. Those results could help us establish whether or not your pet’s illness is acute or may have been developing for some time. Regardless, new testing will need to be done in order to determine the most appropriate treatment for what is happening with your pet, right now.
If your veterinarian is open, we will contact them for your pet’s medical records. Our emergency veterinarian may also speak with your family veterinarian to learn more about why he or she has referred your pet to us. After your pet leaves our hospital, all of his or her emergency medical records will be sent to your family veterinarian, so your clinic is always kept in the loop about what is happening with your pet.
If your pet is undergoing a lot of medical treatment and you anticipate that emergency treatment may be in his or her future, you may want to have your clinic email diagnostic results directly to you. If your clinic has an app or a portal through which you are able to access those results when needed, even better.
We all just want to help your pet’s treatment for illness or injury go as smoothly as possible!
*There are web-based software systems that enable emergency clinics to access your pet’s primary care records, and vice versa. But both the emergency clinic and the primary care clinic have to be paid users of the program in order for the emergency clinic to see the primary care records.
By Heidi Brenegan, MBA, CVPM