Inspection report: Thermal Injury

On December 13, 2012, the USDA Veterinary Medical Officer responsible for UW-Madison made a routine visit to examine our animals and facilities.  As usual, she reviewed animal records. One record described our discovery and treatment of a burn received by a cat during an anesthetic procedure.

Experimental needs dictated that we could not use the usual methods of keeping the cat warm during anesthesia, such as warm air blowers. Thus, at the request of veterinarians, the investigators used warmed bags of fluids placed next to the cat, which also was covered with a reflective blanket. To keep the fluids warm, chemical hand-warmers were placed on top of the fluids. One of the hand-warmers slipped onto the cat’s rear leg. The slip was discovered and corrected promptly, and the veterinarians saw no obvious burn.

We remained concerned about the possibility of injury, and the animal received intensive follow-up monitoring.  A burn became apparent after several days.  The animal was promptly treated with pain medication, antibiotics, IV fluids, and bandaging, and recovered fully.

The USDA VMO acknowledged in her citation that we discovered the issue in a timely manner, treated it appropriately, and have established procedures to prevent a recurrence. UW-Madison regrets that this animal was injured during the course of our research. Our scientists and veterinarians maintain high standards of care for the animals in our research programs. As in any endeavor, on rare occasions there are unanticipated events. When this occurs, we take action to address the problem and evaluate changes to minimize risk of future accidents or errors.

View the citation (PDF)