Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2019

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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54 Today's Veterinary Business Leadership You should investigate com- plaints about third-party harass- ment just as you would if the ac- cused worked for the practice. The investigation should be prompt, unbiased and fair. While the investigation is on- going, you can adjust the affected employee's duties to protect the person from the accused harasser. Do so in a way that has the least impact on the employee's job. This is important because unlawful retal- iation might be alleged if a change in duties negatively affects the em- ployee who lodged the complaint. If your investigation indicates that harassment occurred, speak with the third-party vendor or the vendor's human resources depart- ment. You might need to end the vendor relationship or find a differ- ent company representative. Don't Stop There Depending on the circumstances, other steps might need to be tak- en, including preventive measures. The actions should include, but are not limited to, reviewing your employee handbook to ensure that the complaint-filing process is optimal and determining whether any policies or procedures need updating. Policies must contain the same zero-tolerance language as harassment policies created for intrapractice situations and must protect witnesses who come for- ward with relevant information. When you annually review the employee handbook, use the opportunity to further educate employees about third-party harass- ment, including how it is defined and how they should respond if they see it happening. Encourage employees to speak up, and let them know you will protect them from retaliation. Whenever a situation arises, consider seeking an attorney's advice, especially if you have never handled something similar. Bet- ter yet, talk to an attorney when creating your harassment policies so that you have systems in place to swiftly deal with third-party ha- rassment. This approach will help protect your practice as well as your employees and vendors. Always remember to maintain confidentiality, which is crucial so that your employees feel safe when reporting issues. This will play a sig- nificant role in creating a workplace that is stronger, more productive, and more successful. A Note About Client Harassment Situations in which a client harasses an employee can be especially chal- lenging. Because a filed complaint can affect revenue, employees might be reluctant to report harass- ment. For this reason, your policies should explicitly state that harass- ing behaviors by clients should be reported and that any reports will be thoroughly investigated. Regardless of the parties involved, harassment in the workplace is a serious matter that should be addressed immediately. Your practice should have policies to deal with harassment, and they should be shared with all employ- ees. Doing this will promote a safe work environment where everyone can do their job successfully. H.R. Huddle columnist Dr. Charlotte Lacroix is founder and CEO of Veterinary Business Advisors Inc. She serves on the Today's Veterinary Business editorial advisory board. Leadership H.R. HUDDLE administering medication. The best communication process is more than simply affixing a label to a vial and handing it to the client as she checks out at the front desk. Veterinary nurses need to actively ensure that the client leaves with a complete understanding of what the pet needs at home and how to make it happen. Do it this way: Demonstration • Pet owners do not instinc- tively understand how to properly give a pill or instill eye or ear meds. All new prescriptions should be demonstrated. Show the client how to administer the medication being sent home. Give the first treatment while the client is in the exam room, and demonstrate the best way to restrain and treat the pet at home. • All treatment protocols should be demonstrated, from how to clean the ears before administering medication to applying a hot compress to flushing a drain or brushing teeth. The exam room nurse is in the perfect position to make sure that proper communication happens each time a pet is discharged. Build the time into your discharge appointments. Show and Tell • Use visual aids such as anatomical models and photos, and teach restraint techniques. • How-to videos can be shown in the exam room, sent to the client by email, or viewed through links on the practice website or YouTube channel. Written Instructions • Provide written discharge and treatment instructions, including what to expect over the first few days. Treating the pet at home is frequently a family affair, so the informa- tion should be in a format that can be shared with people who were not present during the discharge appointment. Regimen Aids • Provide pill concealers for pets that are difficult to treat. • Consider daily pill boxes, treat- ment calendars and automat- ed medication reminders. • Suggest strategies such as placing medications in a vis- ible place at home or giving them at mealtimes. • Make sure the prescription refill process is easy. The Follow-Up • Check in with pet owners the day after the visit to make sure they were able to treat the pet and that the medica- tion was issue-free. • Confirm the pet's medical progress exam has been scheduled. What happens in your prac- tice when a client does not accept a treatment recommendation? Understand that finances often are not the main reason a client will decline a treatment plan. Inade- quate communication, not under- standing the pet's needs and a fear of anesthesia generally top the list. If the whole team gets on board with enhanced communi- cation throughout the process, we can help clients make informed decisions. In some cases, "no" just means "not now." Follow up with those clients in a timely and ap- propriate manner. Share important resources and continue to address their concerns. There is no better patient advo- cate than the veterinary nurse. It's what we do best. Getting Technical columnist Sandy Walsh is a practice management consultant, speaker, writer and instructor for Patterson Veterinary University. Continued from Page 52 When you annually review the employee handbook, use the opportunity to further educate employees about third-party harassment, including how it is defined and how they should respond if they see it happening.

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