Certification Levels

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Facility Cert Recognition

VECCS offers a certification program to veterinary facilities that provide emergency and critical patient care.  The purpose of this certification is to recognize facilities that meet or exceed the minimum standards and guidelines formulated by VECCS as centers of excellence.  VECCS offers this certification program as a way to raise the standard of patient care and to increase public and professional awareness of high quality facilities in which veterinary emergency and critical patient care is practiced.

The facility certification program identifies 3 certification levels based on operating hours, equipment and personnel.   The following is a synopsis of the certification levels.

A level III emergency and critical care facility is an acute care facility with medical staff, support personnel, specialized equipment and staff training necessary to provide high quality emergency and critical patient care.  A Level III facility is open to receive emergency patients on nights, weekends and holidays 365 days a year.

To be certified as Level III, the facility must comply with all Level III requirements listed in the VECCS Facilities Certification Guidelines.

A level II emergency and critical care facility has the medical staff, support personnel, specialized equipment and staff training necessary to provide high quality emergent and critical patient care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Level II facilities differ from Level III facilities in that they continuously operate 7 days a week and have specialized facilities and equipment essential to provide high quality critical patient care.  They must have readily accessible consultation with a board certified imaging specialist.

To be certified as Level II, the facility must comply with all Level II requirements listed in the VECCS Facilities Certification Guidelines. 

A Level I emergency and critical care facility has the specialized medical staff, support personnel, equipment and training necessary to provide sophisticated emergent and critical patient care. The Level I facility is open to receive small animal emergency patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

A level I emergency and critical care facility differs from Level II and Level III facilities as follows:

Staffing (see guidelines for additional specifics)

  • The level I facility must have a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care available 24 hours a day.
  • A documented relationship with a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
  • Must have at least two certified technicians (CVT) employed full time with one of the technicians a certified Veterinary Technician Specialist (Emergency and Critical Care).

Site capabilities (see guidelines for additional specifics)

  • Have the resources to evaluate and stabilize any small mammal, avian and reptile (exotic) “pets”. 
  • The capability of providing advanced life support with mechanical ventilation and direct blood pressure monitoring
  • The capacity to perform endoscopy and bronchoscopy.
  • Proficiency in abdominal ultrasound and echocardiography.
  • The skills required to provide total parental nutrition.

To be certified as Level I, a emergency and critical care facility must comply with all Level I requirements listed in the VECCS Facilities Certification Guidelines.

Evaluating Facilities

The VECCS Board of Directors has charged the Facility Certification Committee with the honor and privilege of examining the application documents from all of the emergency and critical care facilities that have sought to become VECCS certified. The authority used by the Committee in its decisions regarding all applications is the current version of the Minimum Requirements for an Emergency and Critical Care Facility, which was approved by the VECCS Board of Directors in the January 2021. The Committee’s task is to evaluate a hospital’s facility, its infrastructure, its business hours, its ER and ICU staff, their respective schedules, the hospital’s commitment to providing training and continuing education for all of those staff who are involved in patient care, medical records, equipment and supplies, and reference books and printed or online resources available to their staff. VECCS and the Committee have no intention to judge the quality of medicine that is practiced within a facility, or to evaluate their business decisions, policies and procedures. To perform its evaluation, the Committee completes a checklist audit. It seeks 100% compliance with the Minimum Requirements before certification is approved for any facility at any level.

Facility Certification Programs

VECCS Facilities Certification Guidelines – Current

VECCS Facility Certification Checklists