Have you ever asked yourselves what the difference between a veterinary hospital and veterinary clinic is? Most people assume that the main difference is size, but there is more to it.
A veterinary hospital, in general, will have a larger physical size than a clinic because the hospital will provide more services than a veterinary clinic and often those services are available at all times. A veterinary hospital will have facilities for all kinds of animal care and nursing, and will usually have in-hospital diagnostic capabilities, as well as more extensive treatment options available.
Veterinary hospitals, because they are more diverse, typically have more veterinarians on staff and more support staff.
What Services You Can Find In Many Veterinary Hospitals
The typical veterinary hospital will have these:
- Radiology – especially digital radiologyIn-House Laboratory tests
- Oxygen Therapy
- Routine General surgery
- Dentistry –
prophys, extractions and some restoration
- Hospitalization – overnight for ill but stable animals
- Specialized Treatment Options – Laser,
- Extensive Pharmacy on-site
- Monitoring equipment – Blood pressure, Pulse Oxygenation, C02, ECG, etc
A veterinary clinic provides similar type services but not on the same scale as a hospital does.
Veterinary clinics tend to focus on the preventative medicine aspect of animal care. They will make diagnoses, but it may take longer because usually, they don’t have in-hospital laboratory capabilities. As such, blood, urine, and other samples must all be sent to outside veterinary laboratories. Therefore, they do not get immediate results, which could be significant in the management of some cases, especially the critically ill or in cases of emergencies.
Generally, a clinic limits its surgical cases to minor procedures, lacerations, small “lumps” and routine neutering and spaying. Anything more involved, they will refer to a specialty veterinary surgical practice or another veterinary facility, i.e., an animal hospital or veterinary hospital in the area. Some veterinary clinics are actually “satellites” of a larger veterinary hospital, and they will send the patient to their main hospital.
Most veterinary clinics have a single veterinarian and at most two veterinarians. They also have less support staff such as receptionists, veterinary technicians and/or assistants. Some clinics do not have radiographic capabilities and may not do dental procedures or limit dental cases to simple dental cleanings only, with no extractions. They also may have only a limited veterinary pharmacy and no ability to “compound” medications.
In summary, veterinary clinics are set up to treat the more simple and basic problems and tend to refer out the more involved veterinary cases. They are set up for more outpatient type cases, and they tend to require less staffing. They require less physical space and the vast majority of laboratory workup and specialized surgeries or treatments will be referred to another veterinary practice. This doesn’t mean that their ability to diagnose or their professional care is less.
There must be designated rooms for a surgical theatre, an X-ray room, a reception area and even the size of the public toilet and its accessibility is specifically prescribed. The assessment makes sure that the future hospitals are noise insulated and even the sewer system must meet certain requirements. The size of the cages, ventilation and internal lighting are also regulated.
2. Staff (vets, nurses) and levels of staffing
All vets and nurses must undertake further studies and training in order to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. They must keep written records and the records are examined randomly when the accreditation process is done. A registered Certificate 4 nurse must be present at the facility during operating hours to make sure that quality health care is always provided.
3. Record keeping
Vet hospitals must have accurate health records of all their patients, and they must be of a high standard.
4. The equipment must be of high quality, up to date and well maintained.
5. A veterinary library must be existent, up to date and of good quality.
6. A pharmacy must be present at the facility and stock a range of pharmaceuticals consistent with a good standard of practice.
All hospitals are accredited for a certain period of time only, and they have to go through the certification process on a regular basis to make sure the standards are maintained and continuously improved. This is why whenever you bring your pet to one of our hospitals you can be certain that the standards of care will be consistent and outstanding.