Introduction


Welcome to the VeNom Coding Group, the group that has developed and maintains a standard set of clinical veterinary terms, the VeNom Codes for use in referral veterinary hospital electronic patients records and first opinion veterinary practice management systems.


The Aims of the VeNom Coding Group are:


  1.     To promote clinical data coding within veterinary medicine in general.

  2.     To encourage and facilitate the use of the VeNom Codes across veterinary institutions, practices and other elements of the veterinary industry.


The VeNom Codes have been developed in the first opinion and referral hospitals through collaboration between the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of Glasgow Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UGFVM) and the PDSA. The codes are a list of terms that are used in veterinary practice and have been standardised across institutes to facilitate academic discussion, research and clinical auditing. Currently, the list consists of diagnoses, presenting complaints and administrative tasks associated with canine and feline veterinary work. The list is being developed to include standardised species and breed lists as well as medical and surgical procedures and standard therapeutics. Both general practice and referral practice terminologies are included.


History


The VeNom Coding Group developed out of a common desire of a number of founding members to encourage and develop a common set of terminology that was as robust as the SNOMED medical terminology but more accessible and flexible for the veterinary user. The original set of terms was derived from a list of final diagnoses coded from SNOMED over a period of several years by clinicians at the RVC Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA). Due to the inherent complexities of the SNOMED nomenclature it was decided to break away from the use of SNOMED and the initial SNOMED-derived list was edited and expanded upon before being implemented in the QMHA in 2006. The terms matured within the QMHA over the following 2 years but remained primarily referral based. An interest in primary practice clinical coding was unfolding (Upjohn et al, 2008) at the same time as an ambitious development of a paperless clinical record was underway at the RVC under Professor David Church (CRIS, Clinical Record Information System) and also at the University of Glasgow Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UGFVM) under Dr Ian Ramsey and Prof Jim Anderson. A number of preliminary meetings were held at the RVC amongst key stakeholders. From a large group of interested parties three main collaborators took the initiative forward, the RVC, University of Glasgow Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UGFVM) and the PDSA. With this initial core of interest the group grew and the terms have matured. Subsequent members from other institutions have joined and the interest across the UK and beyond continues to be maintained.


Access to the codes


The VeNom codes are provided as a free open access resource subject to end-users agreeing to adopt the rules of the VeNom Coding Group, namely that the VeNom Coding Group maintains the terms and all amendments to them. If, for example, an end-user requests a new term, the request is forwarded to the VeNom Coding Group, the term is considered by the VeNom Scientific Forum and the term is adopted if considered appropriate. New editions of the VeNom Codes are released on a quarterly basis and forwarded to all registered end-users.