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Retrospective case series to identify the most common conditions seen ‘out-of-hours’ by first-opinion equine veterinary practitioners
  1. Adelle Bowden1,
  2. Polina Boynova1,
  3. Marnie Louise Brennan2,
  4. Gary C W England1,
  5. Tim S Mair3,
  6. Wendy A Furness4,
  7. Sarah L Freeman1 and
  8. John H Burford1
  1. 1 School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough, UK
  2. 2 Centre for Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough, UK
  3. 3 The Bell Equine Veterinary Clinic, Maidstone, UK
  4. 4 Scarsdale Equine Practice, Derby, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adelle Bowden; Adelle.Bowden{at}


Background The study aim was to describe conditions seen ‘out-of-hours’ in equine practice.

Methods This was a retrospective case series of first opinion ‘out-of-hours’ cases seen at two equine practices between 2011 and 2013. Data were retrieved on case presentation, diagnostic testing, treatment administered and outcome, and diseases categorised using a systems-based coding system. A hierarchical logistic regression, formulated using a generalised linear model, was used to identify clinical variables associated with a binary outcome of ‘critical’ cases (required hospitalisation or euthanasia or died).

Results Data from 2602 cases were analysed. The most common reasons for ‘out-of-hours’ visits were colic (35 per cent, n=923/2620), wounds (20 per cent, n=511/2620) and lameness (11 per cent, n=288/2,620). The majority of cases required a single treatment (58 per cent, n=1475/2550), 26 per cent (n=656/2550) needed multiple treatments and 13 per cent (n=339/2550) were euthanased. Eighteen per cent (n=480/2602) of cases had a critical outcome. Increased heart rate at primary presentation was associated with critical outcome in both practices (Practice A, OR 1.07 (95 per cent confidence interval 1.06 to 1.09), Practice B OR 1.08 (95 per cent confidence interval 1.07 to 1.09; p<0.001)).

Conclusion Colic, wounds and lameness were the most common equine ‘out-of-hours’ conditions; 13 per cent of cases were euthanased. Further research is required into out-of-hours euthanasia decision-making.

  • out-of-hours
  • equine practice
  • horse
  • case series
  • emergency
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  • Funding AB’s PhD studentship was funded by the University of Nottingham.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. The additional data information is published in supplementary files 2 and 3.

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