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Veterinary practices warn of PPE shortages

A survey by Veterinary Medical Association Executives reveals supply chain worries and a willingness to donate equipment to human hospitals when possible.

Veterinary practices warn of PPE shortages

Many veterinary hospitals are running low on personal protection equipment and are having trouble reordering supplies, a survey showed.

Ralph Johnson, CEO of Veterinary Medical Association Executives, told members in an email April 2 that 22% of the more than 1,500 hospitals surveyed expected to run out of surgical masks in seven days or less. Four out of every five clinics had no N95 respirators on hand.

The survey, conducted March 24 and 25, found that ordering masks and gloves was particularly difficult. “Seventy-one percent of veterinary practices that have placed reorders for PPE supplies are unable to obtain a date certain for delivery,” Johnson wrote.

Acute shortages of hand sanitizer, disinfectants and cleaning supplies also were noted.

Answering the call of government and industry leaders, veterinary practices have donated crucial supplies to human hospitals, some of which are in dire need of personal protection equipment and ventilators. Twelve percent of the practices surveyed reported giving away PPE for use in human medicine.

“Many veterinary practices have already donated any excess PPE supplies or do not have any excess supplies,” Johnson wrote. “At this point, despite the desire of the veterinary community to help, it does not possess a large PPE inventory that can be redistributed.”

Veterinary ventilators often can be used in human hospitals if they are retrofitted. A census undertaken by the American College of Veterinary Emergency Critical Care has identified more than 200 machines that U.S. veterinary practices could part with or that have been pledged to human caregivers. In some cases, the tally showed, other machines were donated to hospitals from New York to California.

Veterinary Medical Association Executives, an umbrella group representing state, Canadian provincial and national veterinary groups, said the profession is “conserving its use of PPE supplies and adapting where possible.”

Johnson asked state associations to promote American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines governing the conservation of personal protection equipment. The document is available at https://bit.ly/2xRzBiq.

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