Background: During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many veterinary practices around the world have shifted to a low or no-contact consultation model to ensure the safety of their team members and clients, and comply with public health orders, while continuing to provide veterinary care.
Methods: We performed reflexive thematic analysis on a subset of data collected using a mixed-methods survey of veterinary team members globally.
Results: There were 540 valid responses available for analysis. Low and no-contact euthanasia were raised as a common and/or stressful ethical challenge for 22.8 per cent of respondents. We identified five key themes: no-contact euthanasia as a unique ethical challenge; balancing veterinary team safety with the emotional needs of clients; low and no-contact protocols may cause or exacerbate fear, anxiety, and distress in veterinary patients; physical distancing was more challenging during euthanasia consultations; and biosecurity measures complicated communication around euthanasia and end-of-life decision making.
Recommendations: In light of concerns highlighted by respondents, we recommend the development of a toolkit of protocols that will assist veterinary team members in performing low-contact euthanasia in a range of circumstances, in alignment with their values and professional ethical codes. Professional bodies may be involved in developing, updating, and disseminating this information, and ensuring a continuous supply chain of PPE.
Animals (Basel). 2022 Feb 23;12(5): 560.doi: 10.3390/ani12050560.
1Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
2School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, D04 V1W8 Dublin, Ireland.
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