24h Emergency veterinary service: how can my cat be helped?
As in an emergency department for humans, acutely sick animals are treated immediately in the 24-hour emergency veterinary service, regardless of the hour and day of the week.
If the animal is seriously injured, e.g., due to an accident, if it is bleeding heavily, suffering from shortness of breath and circulation problems or lameness, this is clearly a case for the emergency service in the veterinary hospital. Veterinary surgeons are on site 24 hours and will stabilise the animal as quickly as possible and provide initial treatment. Naturally, emergency operations can also be necessary.
When the patient’s circulation is stable, the vet can arrange further investigations. There is ever less time for this in the emergency service because of the high patient flow. Thus, further non-urgent investigations are often done later, for instance during the clinic’s normal working hours.
24-hour emergency veterinary service: waiting time and costs
The Veterinary Fee Schedule (GOT) regulates the fees charged for veterinary services. It provides for a higher fee to be charged for emergency services than treatment during regular practice hours. In addition, since 2020 a flat emergency service fee must be charged by law during emergency service hours, regardless of the reason for which the animal is brought to the clinic. This covers the additional costs of the emergency service that arise (see below).
In the clinic, it is the responsibility of the vet on duty to sort the patients and manage them according to urgency. It is therefore quite possible that animals are not seen in order of arrival and animals with less serious problems have to wait for longer.
Even when the waiting room is empty, this does not mean that things will happen immediately; the vet often still has patients to treat “on the ward” or was perhaps called on to assist at an emergency operation.
24-hour emergency veterinary service: what services are not offered?
If you are unsure of whether your pet’s condition requires immediate treatment, just call beforehand. An initial assessment can usually be made over the phone. You will also be given important information on the optimal way to transport your pet and which documentation would be helpful. This includes, for instance, medication packaging or results of previous laboratory tests.
Do your pet, your wallet and also the emergency veterinary surgeons a favour and don’t come to the emergency clinic, for example, to have claws trimmed, to collect medication or for a vaccination. You may have to wait a long time, pay the emergency service fee, and your pet can be helped much better in the regular clinic, when the vet will have time plus peace and quiet to concentrate fully on your pet.
How do I find the 24-hour emergency veterinary service in my locality?
To deal with things quickly if the occasion arises, find out in time which veterinary clinic in your locality provides an emergency service. We usually offer a veterinary emergency service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Problems with the 24-hour emergency veterinary service
In the recent past, more and more practices have given up their hospital status as they were unable to guarantee the necessary 24-hour emergency service. (A normal veterinary practice does not have to have a veterinary surgeon available around the clock but can choose its clinic times freely.)
This situation is due to different causes: the increasing shortage of trained staff in Germany does not stop in veterinary clinics. Finding sufficient numbers of qualified staff is becoming ever more difficult. In addition, labour law naturally applies also for vets; breaks and rest times between shifts must be observed. Available staff cover must be adequate if the veterinary clinic wants to provide a 24-hour emergency service while allowing the staff enough rest times. Apart from the emergency service these vets must also look after the hospitalised patients and be ready for emergency surgery. Maintaining enough staff and premises naturally costs money too: setting up a 24-hour emergency service is very expensive. Many clinics were simply unable to afford this or find enough staff. As a result, ever more practices are giving up their clinic license and closing the 24-hour emergency service.
24-hour emergency veterinary service: full waiting rooms
Due to the greatly reduced number of veterinary clinics with a 24-hour emergency service the same number of patients as before now builds up in the few remaining clinics. There are long waiting times.
We ask for your understanding for long waiting times in our emergency clinics.