The BSAVA has published Cognitive Aids for Anaesthesia in Small Animal Practice, a new guide that should help any veterinary surgical team to reduce the incidence of anaesthetic complications.

Cognitive aids are visual prompts that aim to reduce human error in critical processes by providing a supportive framework that ensures tasks are performed and communicated appropriately. They are designed for use whilst a task is being undertaken and enable individuals to concentrate on problem-solving and decision-making.

The BSAVA Cognitive Aids for Anaesthesia in Small Animal Practice, written by veterinary anaesthesia specialist Matt McMillan, includes both routine checklists, such as pre-anaesthetic assessment, equipment checks and postoperative handover, and crisis checklists for potential complications that may be encountered during surgery, such as hypotension, bradycardia and haemorrhage.

The guide also includes downloadable forms, which can be used in practice to ensure safety checks are completed and help improve clinical outcomes (available from

Ian Self, Principal Clinical Anaesthetist at the University of Cambridge Department for Veterinary Medicine said: "This handbook should be viewed as a ‘second pair of eyes’ throughout a procedure, especially if an anaesthetised patient deteriorates; consider it as having an experienced anaesthetist looking over your shoulder offering words of advice… I am very happy to endorse this exciting new BSAVA resource."

The BSAVA Cognitive Aids for Anaesthesia in Small Animal Practice is now available from the BSAVA website ( or by phone on 01452 726700 (£25; BSAVA members: £15).

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