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Maintenance and monitoring of anaesthesia

28 February 2006

In June 2005, Council decided that, in the long term, only Listed and student veterinary nurses should carry out the maintenance and monitoring of anaesthesia.

In January 2006, however, in the light of concerns expressed by the Practice Standards Working Group and others, the Advisory Committee decided that further evidence was needed to justify any advice that only Listed and student veterinary nurses should assist with the monitoring and maintenance of anaesthesia, and recognised that any advice must be practicable.

The advice on the monitoring and maintenance of anaesthesia remains as follows:

  • Inducing anaesthesia by administration of a specific quantity of medicine directed by a veterinary surgeon may be carried out by a Listed veterinary nurse or, with supervision, a student veterinary nurse, but not any other suitably trained person.
  • Administering medicine to effect, to induce and maintain anaesthesia may be carried out only by a veterinary surgeon.
  • Maintaining anaesthesia is the responsibility of a veterinary surgeon, but a suitably trained person may assist by acting as the veterinary surgeon's hands (to provide assistance which does not involve practising veterinary surgery), for example, moving dials.
  • Monitoring a patient both during anaesthesia (and monitoring a patient at any other time) is the responsibility of the veterinary surgeon, but may be carried out on his or her behalf by a suitably trained person.
  • The most suitable person to assist a veterinary surgeon to monitor and maintain a patient during anaesthesia is a Listed veterinary nurse or, under supervision, a student veterinary nurse.

There is additional advice for Listed VNs and student veterinary nurses who, under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, may carry out medical treatment under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.

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