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VETERINARY practices in the UK are required to provide their clients with access to veterinary care outside of their normal working hours: an out-of-hours service. Telephone triage is an effective way for medical emergency teams to organise and prepare for incoming out-of-hours or emergency cases in human and veterinary medicine (Barber and others 2000). Trained telephone personnel are responsible for extracting as much information about the nature of the emergency as possible to allow the human/veterinary team to be able to deal with the case as effectively as possible once the emergency arrives at the place of treatment (Cone and Murray 2002, Ruys and others 2012). To some extent, this system relies on members of the public recognising what an emergency is and identifying when the right time to contact the appropriate veterinary service is. Trends exist within human medicine, for patients to contact ambulance services, phone National Health Service (NHS) medical helplines or to attend hospital accident and emergency departments when their condition is a non-emergency, purported to be due to a lack of compliance with previous medical advice or an overestimation of the severity of their condition (Turner and others 2015). No equivalent research exists for veterinary out-of-hours services; therefore, this study aimed to evaluate if veterinary clientele could differentiate between emergencies and non-emergencies, to discover if a similar situation to that observed in human medicine exists within the veterinary industry.
Retrospective call …
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