Learn more about this veterinary association in my interview with Jason Merrihew, Associate Public Relations Manager for the American Animal Hospital Association.
Q: VetMed Guide - Who/what is AAHA?
A: J Merrihew - AAHA or the American Animal Hospital Association is a non-profit veterinary organization that focuses on companion animal health. AAHA is the only organization that accredits companion animal hospitals in the US and Canada. Over 3,200 practices have earned AAHA-accreditation following a comprehensive evaluation of over 900 standards.
Q: VetMed Guide - When was AAHA founded?
A: J Merrihew - AAHA was founded in 1933 by a group of companion animal veterinarians.
Q: VetMed Guide - Is AAHA exclusively in the US, or worldwide?
A: J Merrihew - AAHA only accredits hospitals in the US and Canada (including a couple in the US Virgin Islands).
Q: VetMed Guide - What steps must a veterinary hospital take in order to become an AAHA hospital?
A: J Merrihew - Once a practice decides to seek accreditation, they contact AAHA and begin the process of reviewing the standards and preparing for an onsite evaluation.
The preparation portion involves the entire practice team and typically takes three-to-six months to prepare. The evaluation includes a quality assessment review of the hospital's facility, medical equipment, practice methods and pet health care management.
Only 15 percent of all small animal veterinary practices in the U.S. have achieved accreditation by AAHA. In order to maintain accredited status, each hospital must continue to be evaluated at least once every three years by the association's practice consultants.
Q: VetMed Guide - What are the benefits for AAHA veterinarians and veterinary hospitals?
A: J Merrihew - Veterinary practices choose to become AAHA-accredited for a myriad of reasons, including the desire to improve practice operations and team building, update their skills, enhance their credibility with clients, strive for continuous improvement and have challenging benchmarks to reach.
Q: VetMed Guide - What are the benefits for clients of an AAHA hospital?
A: J Merrihew - Choosing an AAHA-accredited hospital assures pet owners that the hospital they select has the staff, equipment, medical procedures and facilities that AAHA believes are vital for delivering high-quality and modern veterinary care.
Q: VetMed Guide - Are there any comments that you would like to add about AAHA certification or benefits?
A: J Merrihew - Veterinary medicine is regulated by state agencies, and each state maintains its own minimum regulations. Although AAHA-accreditation is voluntary, AAHA is the only organization in the US and Canada that accredits companion animal hospitals based on standards that go above and beyond state regulations.
The AAHA Standards of Accreditation include more than 900 individual standards, divided into 19 major sections including patient care, surgery, pharmacy, laboratory, exam facilities, pet health records, cleanliness, emergency services, dental and nursing care, diagnostic imaging, anesthesiology, and continuing education.
Thank you, Jason Merrihew, for your time answering these questions about AAHA and the work that AAHA does to help veterinarians and pet lovers. Web site: AAHA