Understanding the Referral Process
GVEC offers a high standard of care and a wide variety of services for your horse, but, as in the case discussed on page 4, there are occasions when we choose to refer a patient to another practitioner or facility. It is important for you, the horse owner, to understand the referral process before you face an emergency.
Emergency referral can be very stressful. Colic surgery is probably the most common cause, but other problems such as dystocia (difficulty giving birth), fractures, encephalitis, and other cases may also warrant it.
In these situations, our job as first responder is critical. We answer your emergency call, examine your horse, and make the initial diagnosis. We may also begin appropriate treatment of the illness or injury. After examining your horse and performing diagnostics, we may suggest referral. We discuss why, when, where, and to whom we could refer your horse's case. Not every horse is a candidate; we can help you decide whether referral is possible or practical.
After discussing the situation with you, we contact the referral institution and relay pertinent medical history and exam findings. If the referral hospital accepts the case, we will stabilize the patient for the trip. As the owner, you are responsible for transporting your horse to the referral site.
Although it is often difficult to discuss finances at the time of an emergency, we must relay to you an estimate of the cost from the referral center. Once at the referral institution, you should be prepared to provide financial information and a deposit. This sum may be as much as half of the highest estimate. Most referral hospitals accept major credit cards, and some use third-party credit services such as Care Credit ® or Farm Plan ® .
Our job as your horse's primary veterinarian does not end with the referral. We communicate with the veterinarians to follow your horse's progress during hospitalization. After the horse returns home, we may provide follow-up care while continuing to communicate with the referral veterinarians.
In an emergency, time is critical, and the success of treatment may depend on quick action. Therefore, it is helpful to have a plan in place before a crisis arises. Determine now whether your horse is a potential candidate for referral, and how much it would be practical to spend on treatment. Designate a credit card or bank account for emergency medical expenses so that funds will be available when needed. If you insure your horse, know what is covered by your policy. If you do not have a trailer or van, make a plan with a friend or neighbor so that transportation can be available when needed. Know whom you can count on for help loading and trailering, caring for horses left at home, or babysitting children. And of course, keep our phone number handy! Please ask us if you would like help with your emergency plan; we hope you never need to use it.