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Complementary Alternatives for the Critically Ill
By Narda Robinson, DVM
As in most other areas in veterinary medicine, complementary and alternative medicine is acquiring a greater presence in the care of the critically ill.
Veterinarians in charge of these patients may field requests from clients to administer herbs, homeopathics, flower essences or glandulars to their animals during the hospital stay. Or clients may ask that a non-veterinarian CAM practitioner provide treatments on hospital premises.
Determining which therapies pose risks or offer benefits is difficult without evidential support. Delegating care to non-veterinarians with questionable or unfamiliar credentials adds risk and exposure for veterinarians already managing a busy practice. 1
Research indicates that human critical care patients suffer from a variety of stressors, including fear, pain, anxiety, lack of sleep, loneliness, lack of control, nightmares and, for those on prolonged mechanical ventilation, inability to speak or communicate. 2
Severely ill animals attached to one or more tubes and subjected to incessant talking, lights, beeps and even music would likely find the experience similarly upsetting.
According to one of the leading researchers in the ethics of human critical care, "Alleviating the stresses and symptoms of critically ill patients will enhance the quality of their ICU stay, which itself achieves an important beneficial and ethical outcome, an outcome that should be a priority of every...
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