Many people want to know the difference between Emergency and Critical Care. The differences lie in the severity of the injury or illness, which dictates the degree of clinical staff involvement.

Our emergency staff sees pets that can often be treated and sent home in a relatively short amount of time. An example of an emergency case could be a wound that requires stitches. Whereas with critical care, patients face life-threatening health issues and we treat and monitor them through much of the recovery process. An example of a critical care case is the dog who arrived at SAGE Veterinary Centers in Dublin with severe brunfelsia poisoning in early 2018. He was in the hospital for several days as he recovered from this toxicity.

A Team Behind Every Patient

On the clinical floor, collaboration is seamless between the departments. Patients come in through Emergency and a Critical Care team of veterinarians and technicians take over when necessary. In some cases, a Criticalist will also work with our Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Surgery and other specialty veterinarians to manage a full spectrum of treatment.

This kind of collaboration happened recently at SAGE Dublin when Dr. Beth Lieblick, who is residency-trained in Emergency and Critical Care, helped to treat an 11-year-old dog who came in with a mass on her spleen. These types of masses have a 75-80% chance of being cancerous and pets in these circumstances often need blood transfusions. Dr. Lieblick’s patient was stable and didn’t require a transfusion, which enabled oncologist Dr. Chantal Tu to step in and diagnose the patient and surgeon Dr. Mark Dosch to remove the mass.

Here’s another example of a pet who had a team behind him: A young cat was referred to SAGE Dublin by his primary veterinarian because he was vomiting. Dr. Bob Lukas examined him in the ER and requested that Internal Medicine specialist Moria Borys perform an abdominal ultrasound. Cardiologist Andrew Waxman did an echocardiogram as well because the tests showed kidney changes that can be associated with heart disease. Together, SAGE Dublin’s specialists diagnosed the cat with an intussusception, a condition where part of the intestine slides into an adjacent part of the intestine – this causes an intestinal blockage. Dr. Mark Dosch performed the surgery to remove the blockage.

The Critical Care team’s ability to work across specialties – all under one roof – can make a huge difference for pets with complex illnesses or injuries. Learn more about SAGE Veterinary Center’s Critical Care departments here.