Fear Free veterinary visits can be quick if you know these tips

VettedVetted July 2019
Volume 114
Issue 7

Dr. Julie Reck shares 10 ways to make these appointments as efficient as possible.

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One of the potential reservations about implementing Fear Free veterinary visits is that they have the potential to take a lot longer per exam than a traditional visit. Fetch dvm360 conference speaker Julie Reck, DVM, says that it doesn't have to be a drag on efficiency, if you know these 10 tips. 

1. Understand the organizational change needed  

Moving to Fear Free is a change and change is a process, Dr. Reck says. Initially, change may be met with excitement, but as the change goes on, productivity may dip as the team adjusts to the new protocols. 

2. Understand how human behavior changes 

Human behavior change usually requires someone to react with their rational brain, Dr. Reck says. But you have to also appeal to their emotional side. To help with this change, ask open-ended questions of your team, such as “What is an ideal patient experience in our practice?” and “How can we achieve this together?”

3. Pre-appointment communication is important  

Communicating with clients before they arrive for their pet's appointment will help keep it running on time. Dr. Reck recommends having clients do the following:  

> Bring in a fresh stool sample since if the stool sample is present from the beginning of the appointment, technicians can begin processing it, leaving the doctor free to do other things. 

> Bring pet with leash and collar or in a carrier for cats. 

> Bring the pet hungry. 

4. Stagger appointments  

If there are multiple doctors practicing at the clinic, consider staggering appointments, Dr. Reck says. For example: Dr. A will see appointments every 30 minutes, starting at 8 a.m., and Dr. B will see patients every 30 minutes, starting at 8:15 a.m. 

5. Stock the exam rooms appropriately  

If all the items necessary for common procedures are available in the exam room, time won't be wasted going back and forth to grab items. Placing all the items in consistent places in each room is also helpful, Dr. Reck says. 

6. Perform more procedures in the exam rooms  

When you perform procedures in the exam room, you save the time needed to explain to the pet owner why the pet is being taken “to the back,” the time it takes to coax the pet away from its owner and the time it takes to recruit another person to help hold the pet in the back, Dr. Reck says. 

7. Keep easy-to-use positive reinforcement items in all areas of the hospital  

Having tasty treats that are easy-to-use and reach in all areas of the hospital (reception, exam rooms, treatment areas, and wards) keeps you from searching all over the hospital to retrieve them. 

8. Disinfect quickly  

Dr. Reck notes that using disinfectant that needs 10 minutes of contact time slows down the efficiency of the hospital. She recommends using products that need less contact time to get your rooms opened back up faster.

9. Proactively administer pre-appointment pharmaceuticals  

If an animal rates at a 3 or higher on the Fear Anxiety and Stress scale, Dr. Reck says that Fear Free guidelines state to not proceed with the exam without adding sedation or rescheduling the procedure with pre-appointment medication on board. 

10. Complete checkout in the exam room 

Dr. Reck says checkout happening in the exam room rather than at the front desk helps keep the bottleneck of clients checking in and checking out from happening. 

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