Is Your Vet AAHA Accredited?
AAHA! – Not just a fun interjection to express your excitement over having just found that long-lost cat toy under the couch. AAHA is actually an acronym that stands for the American Animal Hospital Association. Established in 1933, AAHA is the only organization to accredit companion veterinary hospitals. You see, unlike human hospitals, veterinary hospitals are not required to be accredited. In fact, only 12-15% of animal hospitals in the US and Canada are AAHA accredited. Kinda scary, huh? That’s not to say that a vet that’s NOT accredited is a bad one. There are many wonderful vets out there that have just not gone through the accreditation process. But if a vet is AAHA accredited, you can rest assured that they hold themselves to a high standard.
We know this first-hand because our vet is accredited. Whenever I have to take the kitties to see Dr. Caldwell, I know that they are going to be treated respectfully and with the upmost care and attention.
What does it mean to be AAHA accredited?
If a veterinary hospital is AAHA accredited, it means they have been evaluated on approximately 900 standards of veterinary care, such as:
- Cleanliness and organization – areas are neat, clean, and well-organized
- Minimized contamination – syringes and needles are only used once
- Disease control – frequent hand-washing or antimicrobial agents are used to prevent the spread of contagious disease
- Use of anesthesia monitoring equipment – tracks a pet’s vital signs while under anesthesia and alerts medical professionals to any changes
- Top surgical care – pre-surgical assessments, dedicated surgical suites, surgical attire, and sterile packs and equipment
- Emergency preparation – emergency equipment and drugs readily available, stocked at all times, and in a portable container for those unscheduled emergencies
- Continuing education – all veterinary team members are encouraged to continue their education to stay up-to-date on all the newest information
- And many more!
As mentioned above, vet practices are evaluated against approximately 900 standards of excellence. These standards are continually being updated to reflect the latest developments and improvements in veterinary medicine. When a veterinary practice applies to become accredited, they will usually spend several weeks to months examining and fine-tuning their operation to be sure they meet AAHA’s standards. The entire veterinary team is often involved, from the veterinarian to the receptionist. When the practice is ready, the following steps are taken:
- AAHA sends consultants to conduct an on-site evaluation
- Points are awarded to the veterinary practice for each standard they meet
- A certain score must be reached for the practice to pass
- The practice will then be re-evaluated every 3 years to ensure they are keeping up with the most current standards
Becoming accredited is not guaranteed, and it is certainly not easy. In fact, it is a big achievement – one to be celebrated!
Happy AAHA Accredited Hospital Day!
AAHA has officially designated July 22 as AAHA Accredited Hospital Day! The goal of this day is to highlight the exceptional care provided by accredited hospitals and to educate pet owners about AAHA accreditation.
If your vet is accredited, today is the perfect day to express your gratitude for them and all that they do for your fur babies! Pick up the phone, shoot an email, send a card – just let your vet know how much you appreciate them and the fact that they hold themselves to a higher standard.
If your vet is not accredited, today might be a great time to ask them if they’ve considered going through the accreditation process and encourage them to do so. Perhaps they haven’t pursued it because they don’t realize how much their patients would value it! You never know 😉
How do I know if my vet is accredited?
Accredited veterinary offices will display the AAHA logo in their office and/or on their website! You can also check the AAHA Accredited Hospital Locator to find one near you.
Is your vet accredited?
For more information, visit AAHA’s Pet Owner’s Website.
If you’d like to read more about AAHA and why you as a pet owner should seek an accredited veterinarian, we recommend reading this great article by Scott Smith.