CVS has run a clinical improvement project to increase the treatment of lameness within 35 of its first opinion small animal practices throughout the UK.

The group says it has led to 6,086 more clinical metrology questionnaires being conducted at participating practices with their patients, a 1,014% increase.  

Developed by John Innes at the University of Liverpool, the Liverpool Osteoarthritis in Dogs (LOAD) questionnaire is a 13-item clinical metrology instrument (CMI) used to assess canine articular disorders like osteoarthritis.

It includes questions on the pets’ medical background, lifestyle and mobility.

Individual question scores are summed to provide an overall “LOAD score” suggestive of the animal’s disease presence and severity.

The questionnaire should be conducted every time the pet is presented to the veterinary clinic, with results tracked over time.

Treatment options - including the benefits and risks of all available modalities – can then be considered and discussed with owners to determine the best course of action, including weight management, diet, supplements, exercise and environmental modification, in addition to medication.

As part of the project, CVS provided a range of supporting resources for its practices, together with training.

Training focussed on diagnosing and managing conditions causing lameness in dogs and cats, using the clinical metrology questionnaire to engage clients in their pets’ treatment plan, offering best practice treatment options and running nurse mobility clinics.

It comprised of a vet CPD day run with Zoetis and the VOA on approach to and management of lame patients, two nurse CPD days on mobility clinics, a feline and canine orthopaedic examination video, First Opinion Clinical Club webinars on canine and feline osteoarthritis and an approach to radiographic interpretation course.

Resources included: new clinical guidelines, IMV resources (radiographic positioning, optimising the image and optimal chemical restraint) and a Mobility Clinic Booklet for clients.  

Each site was then provided with its own data, so that they could monitor what they were doing individually. 

One year after its nation-wide launch, results reveal that the number of clinical metrology questionnaires being conducted in the 35 participating practices has increased from 6 to 6,092 over a 12 month time period.

CVS says there was also evidence of an increasing incidence of the osteoarthritis drugs Librela and Solensia being prescribed.

Kathryn Patel, Hub Clinical Lead at CVS (pictured), who was responsible for the lameness clinical improvement project, said: “This project uses owner questionnaires to screen for and monitor the impact of lameness on patient quality of life and emphasises the importance of the whole clinical team in patient management.

"Vets and nurses will be supported to improve their ability to reach a diagnosis in every lame case, improve engagement with and compliance of owners with lame pets, and improve the quality of care of lame patients through appropriate medication, surgical intervention, and nurse and physiotherapy support.” 

PS: Whilst you're here, take a moment to see our latest job opportunities for vets.