Liz Hughston, MEd, RVT, CVT, VTS (SAIM, ECC), VetTechXpert
Liz Hughston, MEd, RVT, CVT, VTS (SAIM, ECC), practices as a relief veterinary nurse and consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area for both general and emergency/specialty practices. She is dedicated to advancing veterinary nursing through training and mentorship and is frequently sought-after as a national and international speaker. Liz graduated from Foothill College in 2006 and earned her VTS certification in both small animal internal medicine and emergency and critical care in 2012. She was honored in 2013 with California’s Registered Veterinary Technician Association’s inaugural RVT of the Year award, which recognized her efforts to improve veterinary nursing in California and beyond.
FUN FACT: When Liz was growing up in San Francisco, she attended rodeo camp every summer for 10 years. She can rope a calf, tie a goat, and herd cattle!
Veterinary nurses can teach clients to administer SQF at home, which has several benefits:
The following information should give veterinary nurses the confidence to teach clients how to administer SQF.
Most patients will be prescribed SQF for ongoing at-home treatment and have several bags of fluids dispensed at a time.
Allow the client to actively participate until he or she feels comfortable with this step.
Show the client the drip chamber where he or she will monitor the rate of fluid administered to the pet. Explain what constitutes a good rate and what indicates the needle has been properly inserted.
Again, allow the client to practice.
Needle safety is critical when teaching clients how to deliver SQF at home. Many do not have experience with needles of any kind; some may be intimidated by the thought of sticking their pet, while others may need to overcome a general fear of needles. The following steps will prepare clients for safe and effective needle use.
When demonstrating proper needle insertion, use a towel as a stand-in for the patient. A towel provides more resistance to the needle than the patient’s skin and allows the client to practice performing a quick, decisive stick.
Clients must know how to safely dispose of used needles at home. In many states, veterinarians are barred from accepting used needles from clients, but many pharmacies and medical offices provide needle return services as long as the needles are disposed of in an approved sharps container. (See Figure 4.)
Mail-in sharps disposal services also can be purchased at local pharmacies. All used needles must be discarded safely to avoid possible injury.
Any client can be taught to provide SQF therapy at home. Education is crucial for making clients feel confident and secure, and if they are effectively taught the required skills, they may find SQF administration a rewarding experience that gives them an active role in promoting their pet’s health.
1 Many clients are afraid of needles and the veterinary team should be well-trained to educate clients thoroughly, both at the practice and with material to take home, to help allay any concerns.
2 When teaching clients SQF administration, allow them to practice the procedure as many times as they need to feel comfortable.
For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.
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