AAHA Accreditation

AAHA Accreditation is a Very Big Deal 

We know this because human hospitals have their own accreditation standards. For example, if a human hospital is not accredited by a CMS-approved program, they can’t offer Medicare. Being AAHA accredited is not about prestige. Yes, that comes with it. Being accredited is actually about operating at a higher level. And when it comes to health, that’s the only level to play on. The process of accreditation is challenging and rigorous. It is also voluntary and not guaranteed. When a veterinary facility steps up to become accredited, it means they are making a proclamation they are committed to excellence.

This doesn’t mean non-accredited veterinary practices are bad. No. It does mean they’ve not been measured by AAHA’s roughly 900 accreditation standards. Some veterinary practices think good enough is good enough. And that’s fine. But as AAHA’s President-elect, Dr. Darren Taul says, “It also raises the question of how much more successful would they be if they truly reached for their full potential by obtaining accreditation.”

As in any profession, some want to take their skillset to the next level. They want to be champions. AAHA can take them there. Since 1933, AAHA has charted a course to accreditation for approximately 3,700 practices. Dr. Bo Williamson, owner of the Tennessee Avenue Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, the oldest continuously accredited American Animal hospital Association Hospital in the world says, “Accreditation is a way to force yourself to be the best you can be. Owners and employees of accredited hospitals constantly look to make things better.”

Currently, only 12 to 15 percent of animal hospitals are accredited. AAHA wants more practices to make the journey to accreditation. They invite you to take the accreditation challenge and go at your own pace. This allows prospective practices to know exactly what lies in front of them.

AAHA is considered, as their motto states, ‘a standard for veterinary excellence.’ It works to ensure excellence in companion animal veterinary care through accreditation, guidelines development, and education.”

– Dr. Jane Sykes, Chief Veterinary Medical Officer, UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

AAHA headquarters in Colorado 

At its core, accreditation has two functions. First, it recognizes and objectively certifies great veterinary practices. This is valuable to pet parents as they search for the best possible care for their nonhuman family members. Second, it helps good veterinary hospitals become great ones by coaching their personnel and helping practices live up to their potential. Many practices are poised to take the step from good to great, but need the counsel and guidance that AAHA provides to fully realize their latent qualities.

High Standards and Real Results

Those standards have very real life-and-death effects on animals and their human companions. Lori Seubert, an experienced cat rescuer from Toledo, Ohio is one of the many people who view AAHA accreditation as essential in choosing a veterinary facility. She recalls her capture of a rascally kitten who frequented a parking lot near a Rally’s restaurant and had evaded capture for almost two months.

Several weeks after she was finally trapped, Rally Sally began to pant and breathe rapidly. Ms. Seubert took her to Sylvania Veterinary Hospital, an AAHA-accredited facility, where Dr. Bob Esplin diagnosed her with community-acquired pneumonia. He prescribed a multiple-day stay in an oxygen chamber and other life-saving therapies. It was a grave situation, but Rally Sally made a full recovery and was later adopted by a wonderful couple. “I’ve gone to several different vets in my area seeking affordable medical care for the rescue cats I’ve fostered,” said Ms. Seubert, “but I knew this kitten was very sick and needed the best care possible. I took her to Sylvania Veterinary Hospital because I knew that she’d have the best chance at survival in a place that was accredited by the AAHA.”

Stacy Hamilton, a vet tech and practice manager at Loving Family Animal Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, AAHA’s 2017 Practice of the Year, has seen what accreditation means to her clients. “It tells them how much we really care about practicing high-quality medicine,” she remarked, “because we’re holding ourselves to the highest standard of care possible. Our clients know we will always provide them with the best options for their loved ones. As awareness in the community has grown about what AAHA is and does, many clients have come to realize that this is an optional accreditation that few hospitals hold. That really sets us apart.”

What Do Pet Parents Think About Accreditation? – Great Question

Trone Brand Energy did a study on just that back in 2016. The study found that pet owners are overwhelmingly attracted to animal hospitals that have the AAHA accreditation.

Some of the survey highlights are below:

85% of pet owners would choose an AAHA-accredited hospital over a non-accredited one;

58% are willing to pay more to use an accredited facility (although veterinary health insurance is now within reach for most people); and

63% would drive farther to get treatment at an accredited practice.

*Originally published on ConsumersAdvocate.org


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