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Ask Amy: Team members who don't practice euthanasia etiquette

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Team members-including doctors-should respect the emotional toll euthanasia takes on clients.

Our comfort room is in the middle of a busy hallway. We hang a sign, but many veterinarians still chat and laugh loudly right outside the door. How do I broach this subject without stepping out of line? —CARING BUT QUIET

DEAR CARING:

How your practice handles euthanasia appointments can make or break your client relationships. These appointments represent a difficult time in clients' lives. Making them overhear jokes or loud talking is disrespectful.

So inappropriate behavior outside the comfort room needs to be stopped immediately. Call a team meeting to talk about it. If you're uncomfortable bringing up the topic yourself, approach the practice manager or owner and request that it be addressed at your next session.

Some solutions you could propose: Receptionists should flag euthanasia appointments in advance so the rest of the staff can prepare. Place a signal outside the exam room door, and also consider calling a special code over the intercom or dimming the lights in the hallway or common areas. If possible, designate a secluded exam room for euthanasias.

The entire staff—veterinarians included—must work together to create the desirable environment your team agrees upon. The practice should have a disciplinary policy in place so action can be taken if anyone ignores the procedures and expectations. —AMY

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