An interview with Sydney Simpson – 2024 Dunkin Award Winner

6 February 2024

The 2024 Dunkin Award for the best published paper in small animal medicine in the Journal of Small Animal Practice was awarded to Sydney Simpson at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. We asked Sydney about her research on peripheral intravenous catheter complications in hospitalised dogs and what she learnt from the study.

  1. How did you become involved in the study?

As a technician in the Critical Care Unit at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, I had the opportunity to work on this study under the guidance of   faculty member and senior author Dr. Kristin Zersen, DVM, MS, DACVECC.  Under her mentorship, I was able to complete this study and I’ve had the opportunity to continue working with Dr. Zersen on other studies.

  1. What question did your research tackle?

Dr. Zersen and I have long recognized that IV catheter complications were a problem in veterinary medicine, but when we evaluated the literature looking for ways to improve our current processes, we realized that the veterinary literature was scarce.  The goal of our study was to report the incidence and type of IV catheter complications in dogs.  We felt this was important to establish so future work could identify ways to reduce the incidence of complications, focusing on the complications we identified to be most common.

  1. Briefly, what were the main findings of your study?

In our study of hospitalized dogs, the overall incidence of IV catheter complications was 19.9%. The incidence of complications was higher in dogs hospitalized in the Critical Care Unit compared to those hospitalized in the Intermediate Care Unit. Phlebitis was the most commonly reported complication in dogs hospitalized in the Critical Care Unit, while line breakage was most common in dogs hospitalized in the Intermediate Care Unit.

  1. Were the results what you expected, or were you surprised by the outcome?

Dr. Zersen and I were not too surprised by the incidence of IV catheter complications.  Working on the clinic floor, this is a challenge we face on a daily basis.  We were more surprised to find out that our complication rates were lower than those reported in human medicine.

  1. What is the one message you’d like veterinarians and veterinary technicians to take away from the study?

IV catheters are used daily in veterinary hospitals and they play a key role in providing vital treatments for our patients. However, IV catheter complications can lead to patient discomfort, delayed treatment administration, additional work for veterinary staff, added cost to the client, and may also lead to more serious consequence for our patients.  Our study provides important foundational information on the incidence and types of IV catheter complications in hospitalized dogs, which opens the door for future research into the prevention of IV catheter complications.  We also hope our work encourages veterinary teams to evaluate their current IV catheter complication rates and to discuss how they may work to decrease complications in their own hospitals.

Read Sydney’s paper “Incidence and type of peripheral intravenous catheter complications documented in hospitalised dogs” in JSAP here.