Today's Veterinary Business

APR 2018

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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41 April/May 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM The heartbeat of every general veterinary practice is the exam room. This is where worried new clients sit with their dogs and cats, and sadly, where end-of-life discussions take place and the hardest decisions have to be made. The exam room is where the human-animal bond can shine, trust is created, and veterinarians, clients and patients become part of one bigger family. Communication FEARLESS Unfortunately, the exam room is also where this beautiful process can falter because of the inadvertent development of fear, anxiety or stress in the patient or client. However, with a few specific and economically feasible chang - es, and with a veterinarian who embraces available tools, an exam room can instantly change into a positive place for all. Trust leads to compliance, better medicine and better revenues for a practice. To reduce fear, anxiety and stress appropriately, we need to consider all the senses used by our patients when in the hospital setting and exam room. First, let's understand what triggers a canine's senses and, more importantly, how we can prevent developing the "fear cascade" in our patients. A good friend of mine loves to say, "Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." This applies to the new phi- losophy of bringing the diagnostics to the patient. Many veterinarians used to take a canine patient "to the back" to obtain samples, check blood pressure, or per- form a quick ultrasound or grooming proce- dure. In this new age of reducing fear, anxiety and stress, make it a priority to have all these lab supplies, diagnostic tools and treatment needs inside the exam room so that movement through the hospital, where other new triggers may present themselves, are reduced. Stand or Sit The exam table, while historically a centerpiece of the exam room, is becoming less and less neces- sary. For patients that still do well on the exam table, consider offer- ing a heated tabletop or topping it with a non-skid mat and warmed towel. Many veterinar- ians are shifting to a padded floor mat or having smaller dogs sit in the owner's lap. In any of these situations, secured footing and traction are essential during the orthopedic and neurologic com- ponents of the physical exam in the interest of patient safety and exam accuracy. Having a patient sit in the owner's lap during an exam can be intimidating at first for a veteri- narian who is not used to treating an animal in this manner. Start out by doing the exams on the dogs of clients who have a good rela- tionship with the practice, or try it with team members and their pets. Develop a comfort level before you move on to other clients, and then start with those you have a great rapport with. All this is worth the effort because the comfort you create for the patient will help you practice better medicine and the bond you develop with your client will become stronger. Neutralize the Air Do dogs smell fear? While thought to be an exaggeration by some, it is true. A dog that is stressed or fearful will produce a fear phero- mone that is excreted in urine and that other dogs will smell. If a fear- ful patient urinates in your exam room and appropriate disinfection isn't used, the fear pheromones will be detected by other patients throughout the day, setting off By Natalie Marks, DVM Canine-specific pheromones can be used as diffusers in the exam room, be sprayed on the veterinarian and exam room assistants, and be impregnated on towels, stethoscopes, scales and other exam room accessories. The fearless exam room A few easy changes will go a long way in reducing fear, anxiety and stress in a canine or feline patient.

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