If you are looking for a new vet for your dog or cat, you may have already gotten some recommendations and are now in the process of visiting different facilities. One concern you may have when visiting a prospective animal hospital is the condition of their equipment. While used veterinary supplies can sometimes look worse for wear, as long as they are functioning and sterilized properly, they can get a lot of mileage. If you are still concerned about the condition of vet's equipment, keep these tips in mind:
Check Out Your State's Veterinary Board, and Then Ask Your Questions
Every state has its own veterinary board which sets standards that must be followed by all veterinarians, vet staff, and hospital owners. For instance, most states require that veterinarian equipment must be maintained and sterilized. They also require that emergency-oxygen machines and anesthetic equipment be in good working condition. While some states have broad rules and minimum requirements, these boards also check veterinarians licenses every year and they inspect the hospitals. So if you are uncertain about a facility, you can contact your state's board and see if they've had problems in the past with aging or broken equipment.
Take a Look at any Metal Instruments Lying Around in the Exam Room
When you go in for the first visit with your pet, take a look at any instruments once you are in an exam room. The state of metal instruments can be a tell-tale sign for the rest of facility.
Metal tools should be cleaned immediately after usage and sterilized. This is an extremely important job since dirty instruments can cross-contaminate sterilized instruments and put healthy animals in danger. If tools are rusted, stained, or chipped, you've got a red flag. If tools are rusted, that means the instruments weren't thoroughly dried or cleaned quickly enough. Chipped instruments are not only dangerous to use, but they can be dangerous to your pets since they won't work properly.
In short, even if metal instruments are bought second-hand, they should still be in good condition. And since the cost of replacing these instruments can be hefty, it's really in the vet's best interest anyway to keep them clean.
Ask the Office How the Vet Techs Clean Their Equipment
Vet techs are usually the go-to people when it comes to who's in charge of cleaning equipment and supplies. Along with cleaning smaller instruments properly, double-check and see if the vet techs use autoclaves or ultrasonic devices. Autoclaves are devices that use high temperatures to eradicate viruses, bacteria, grime, and other contaminants. Ultrasonic devices eradicate similar contaminants by using high-frequency sound waves to create bubbles. These bubbles rise and collapse quickly, producing shock waves that destroy dangerous cells. Even if the equipment in the office is old, the use of autoclaves and/or ultrasonic devices is a good sign! In fact, there have been some studies which show that ultrasonic devices are much more effective than manual scrubbing, so these devices will do a great job keeping used supplies and equipment clean.
As long as the facility is clean and comfortable and as long as you keep these tips in mind, then aging and used veterinary supplies shouldn't be an issue to your pet's health.