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Patient recovery: Every team member plays a part
Managing postoperative pain should rank as a top concern for team members and pet owners. Follow these position-specific guidelines to educate clients and help keep their pets comfortable.
“Re-checks are a great way to keep in contact with the pet,” says Jennifer Dupre, CVT, VTS (anesthesia), a faculty member at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, West Indies. “We recommend doing them three to five days after surgery.” Receptionists should schedule these follow-up appointments with clients before they leave with their pets. To ensure clients return, call or send e-mail or text message reminders. Once pets have been home for a week, call clients to check in. This could head off a potentially life-threatening situation and put pet owners at ease. If clients ask more detailed questions, request a technician finish the conversation.
“The patient's whole experience in the hospital revolves around comfort,” says Jennifer Dupre, CVT, VTS (anesthesia), a faculty member at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. “If it's a very stressful, anxious experience for the pet or the owner, they won't want to come back.” Veterinary assistants are crucial to this enjoyable experience. By assisting technicians throughout the preoperative and postoperative process, you ensure pets feel well and stay relaxed. Convey your care to clients, and let them know that gentle touch and talking will help their dogs and cats recover more quickly.
Before a patient is discharged, a technician should spend time telling the pet owner about the doctor's at-home instructions for managing pain, administering medications, and caring for the wound. Some topics to address with clients: Normal and abnormal behaviors, expected oozing and bleeding, and the importance of using an Elizabethan collar whenever possible. A word of warning: Client handouts are a valuable communication tool, but don't rely on them to completely educate clients. Also, technicians should handle most follow-up visits, calling in the veterinarian if more complicated issues arises.
Be sure all team members know basic information to talk with clients about postoperative at-home care. Monitor your practice's reminder system, checking whether your tactics are getting clients in the door. Also, work to set a schedule that allows technicians to complete discharge instructions. “While some receptionists are trained to do this, it will pull them away from the desk,” Dupre says. This way clients calling or checking in still get immediate attention and excellent service.”