In Ontario, veterinary medicine is considered essential, but is currently restricted to “urgent” care only. What constitutes “urgent” is a grey zone. We’ve avoided trying to create a comprehensive list of “what veterinarians should and shouldn’t do” because there are so many factors and nuances to consider in every individual case. Instead, we’ve focused on trying to better outline decision making pathways.
Here’s a slightly updated version of the previous OVMA document “Veterinary medicine during a time of restriction of elective services and social distancing” (17-Apr-2020), which also includes a revised decision tree (below) regarding whether or not an animal needs to be seen on an urgent basis.
The main difference is the addition of separate questions for “Is there a significant risk that the problem may become life threatening in the near term without direct treatment that cannot be provided by the caretaker?” and “Is a delay likely to result in a significant risk of serious illness or welfare issue?” It’s approaching it from the standpoint that if there’s reasonable confidence that something will deteriorate to a life-threatening (urgent) situation in the short term but it can be headed off now, then it’s reasonable to do so. It’s a slippery slope though, and we still need to do what we can do to maximize social distancing and activity right now. As things start to abate (whenever that is), we’ll presumably see continued evolution of guidance. We’re unlikely to go straight from “urgent only” to “business as usual.” It’s an ongoing balancing act, so ongoing changes and discussion will be key. More to follow, undoubtedly.