The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is an international association of more than 40,000 veterinary care providers who treat companion animals. Established in 1933, AAHA is well known among veterinarians and pet owners for its standards for hospitals and pet health care. Many veterinary hospitals voluntarily participate and remain actively involved in the AAHA hospital evaluation program. Consultants regularly visit these hospitals to ensure compliance with AAHA’s standards for services and facilities.
AAHA is the only organization that accredits animal hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada. Unlike human hospitals, not all veterinary hospitals need to be accredited, and only 12-15% of US hospitals are AAHA accredited. AAHA-accredited hospitals voluntarily choose to be evaluated on 900 standards. These AAHA standards represent those components of veterinary practice high-quality care. The Standards are periodically reviewed and updated to ensure that they remain consistent with evolving knowledge and technology. Here are a few examples of how AAHA’s standards impact you and your pet.
- Complete diagnostic facilities. This includes the examination room, radiology services, clinical pathology services, and the equipment necessary to provide comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services.
- The facility must be fully equipped to make prompt, accurate diagnosis and treatment. An on-site library of basic textbooks and current periodicals also is required.
- Complete pharmacy facilities. The most frequently used medicines must be available at all times, controlled substances must be monitored, and clients must be adequately informed concerning treatment.
- Properly maintained environment and contagious disease protocols. Safe and sanitary conditions must be maintained throughout the hospital, from the reception room to the kennel, including the outside premises.
- Modern surgical facilities. The hospital must have an aseptic, single-use room for surgery. Proper lighting, sterile equipment and procedures, and easy access to drugs and equipment are required.
- Proper anesthetic procedures. The hospital must conduct a pre-anesthetic examination before surgery and provide a safe, painless, state-of-the-art anesthesia during surgery.
- Dental service. Oral hygiene is as important to a pet’s health as it is to a person’s health. AAHA hospitals routinely perform teeth cleaning, extractions and gum procedures.
- Staff continuing education and training is required for AAHA certification. Veterinarians must routinely exceed the CE requirements of their state licensing board.
- Nursing care. This is a vital part of an efficient animal hospital. Skilled veterinary technicians contribute greatly to the professional care pets receive from diagnosis through recuperation.
- Orderly and thorough medical records. These are critical for the pet’s welfare and continuity of care. There must be an individual record for each pet patient.
- Emergency service. Each AAHA hospital must provide, or have access to, 24-hour emergency service for its clients.
All AAHA hospital members voluntarily meet or exceed the association’s standards for facilities, equipment, and quality procedures. They are regularly evaluated by an AAHA consultant to assure continuing compliance. In addition, every AAHA veterinarian is encouraged to keep up-to-date on major developments in veterinary medicine. The association offers its 40,000 individual members a wide variety of continuing education opportunities-self-study courses, seminars, lectures, workshops, annual and regional meetings, videotapes, computer education, and publications.
What Accreditation Means For You, The Pet Owner. Choosing an AAHA accredited veterinary practice for your pet’s medical care assures you that the practice you have selected has the facilities, equipment, staff, and medical protocols that AAHA believes are important for the delivery of high-quality care. Furthermore, this hospital’s voluntary commitment to the AAHA Standards and the Accreditation Program demonstrates that the practice has chosen to have itself measured by an outside organization against the most rigorous published Standards in the industry.