It is important for the members of the medical team to have a strong foundation in fluid therapy and in transfusion medicine. Technicians place catheters, do blood typing and crossmatching, administer fluids and blood products, and monitor patients. Assistants help with all aspects of patient care and will benefit from understanding fluid therapy and transfusion medicine so they can recognize complications and anticipate the needs of the doctor, technician, or patient.
Fluid therapy is a cornerstone of veterinary care. Providing safe, appropriate hydration and returning patients to electrolyte and fluid balance takes skill and an understanding of the factors involved. Veterinary technicians are generally responsible for patient preparation and treatment plan implementation and must be diligent guardians of ongoing treatment and catheter care. It is crucial that technicians understand why fluids are essential, the different types of fluids available, and how to provide them. Intravenous fluid therapy is vital for the management of shock, dehydration, and maintenance in animals that require parenteral fluid therapy.
Since the early 1980s, blood product administration to treat critically ill animals, or those undergoing surgical procedures, has increased tremendously. However, it is important to note that blood products are obtained from donor animals and represent a limited resource that is not available in all situations. Because they are biologic products, they bear the inherent risks of transmitting infectious diseases or causing other adverse reactions. Technicians in the critical care setting play a key role in providing safe and effective transfusion therapy and, therefore, should be aware of the principles of transfusion medicine. The safe use of blood component therapy requires knowledge of blood groups and antibody prevalence, and knowledge of the means to minimize the risk of adverse reactions by including the use of proper donors and screening assays that facilitate detection of serological incompatibility. Transfusion medicine is a vital part of veterinary emergency and critical care medicine.
Basic Principles of Fluid Therapy and Transfusion Medicine will help team members provide stronger medical support and practices provide superior medical services.