Clinical Excellence in a Specialist Veterinary Hospital

‘Clinical excellence’ is quite the buzz-phrase in the health care context these days – whether at your GP or a specialist care unit in a large hospital.

So says Ben Harris. Clinical Director at Wear Referrals.

Ben Harris

Essentially, it means that the centre of all things is patient care and outcomes. Clinical excellence as a concept has been adopted into the veterinary field over recent years – once again upholding the patients (the pets) and their outcomes as the being of primary importance. There are some clear differences between the human and veterinary fields, however, as our patients can’t speak up for themselves, we also have to ensure that the clients (i.e. the pet owners) are given the best customer experience at what may be a particularly difficult time. When a patient is entrusted to our care as a veterinary team, we have to act as their advocates.

Clinical excellence is more than a vague concept – it is something that requires structure, planning and review. As Clinical Director of Wear Referrals – a multidisciplinary specialist veterinary referral hospital – clinical excellence is one of my main responsibilities.

We need to ensure that we have the most up-to-date knowledge on techniques and clinical research, to give our patients cutting-edge care. At Wear Referrals we hold weekly journal clubs to review published veterinary research. The senior vets and specialists teach seminars to the interns and residents – although they are already experienced, qualified vets, they have further teaching as part of their advanced training.

Application of the latest research gives us an ‘evidence-based approach’ to clinical care. To ensure we apply our knowledge to every patient’s care, all of our patients are discussed in ward rounds with multiple colleagues present – many minds are better than one!

We review our patient outcomes and look for ways in which we can improve: We have recently finished a clinical audit to check that we are handling intravenous cannulas in the best way we can, minimising the risk of infection.

When we’ve identified the best evidence or the best way of doing something, we have to be consistent, so we write and follow Standard Operating Procedures for detailed tasks. These are regularly reviewed to keep up-to-date with the latest knowledge.

We are proud of the care that we offer, but that care and clinical excellence is something you can’t easily reflect on a website, so we seek accreditation for what we do as individuals (e.g. being given status as Recognised European Specialists in various fields) or as an organisation (such as our Cat Friendly Clinic award or our Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Hospital status).

I’m proud of my team of over 125 vets, nurses and colleagues who embody this modern concept of clinical excellence with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned tender loving care.