Veterinary medical procedures are a team effort, and that team includes the owner. Sure, there are surgeons, assistants and other medical staff involved. However, any time the animal spends outside the clinic is time they’re in the care of their owners. That puts a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They need to make sure their pet is ready for surgery, they need to stick to care protocols for recovery, and they need to know when to seek outside help.
When you aren’t a medical professional, that’s a lot to take in. Putting together a comprehensive care plan and providing space for clients to ask questions is just as important as what happens inside the clinic. Done well, this can improve the outcome of your patients, while giving your clients the confidence they need to overcome the stress and worries around caring for a sick pet.
Setting Expectations with a Timeline
Most of the steps in the surgery process are handled by the clients, from preparing their pet for surgery to handling the recovery. Going over these stages before the procedure helps them deliver the care their pet needs, while easing worries about problems they may encounter. Here are some questions you should cover in your discussion:
- What does the client need to do to prepare their pet? Do they need to fill prescriptions or get medical equipment before the procedure? Do they need to change other aspects of their pet’s health care on the lead up to the procedure? Does the animal need to fast?
- What does the recovery time line look like? How should they expect their pet’s health to change, and when should they consult your office? What steps do they need to take to avoid setbacks in recovery?
- How much activity should the pet get during recovery? Does the pet need to be kept in a kennel, or only allowed outside on a leash? Are there less physical activities their pet can engage in to prevent boredom?
- What medications will their pet be on, and for how long? How are they administered? What does the client need to do to get them? Will they be pre-filled and given to the client when their pet is released, or do they need to get the prescription themselves?
- Are they part of the sedation protocol? When is the best time to give the pet their medication, so it lines up with the surgical procedure? How does the medicine they give their pet work with the sedatives given in the surgical suite?
- How will their pet look and act when they’re picked up from the clinic? What can they do to make their pet comfortable as it comes out of sedation?
- Will their pet need an e-collar or a cone collar? How do they use this device to keep their pet from interfering with the wound?
- Are there bandages and dressings that need to be changed? How do you care for them, and when do they need to bring their pet in for changes?
- What is the client financially responsible for? They may not realize follow up visits aren’t part of the initial cost, or they may have trouble estimating how much they’ll need to pay out.
This is a lot to take in, so it helps to have an information packet the client can refer back to.
Smoothing Out Recovery
The outcomes of procedures vary, which means pre-emptive planning is never perfect. Make sure the person your client talks to when they pick up their pet understands the procedure, so they can answer common questions. While they’re there, schedule follow ups for check ups and bandage changes. This solidifies the recovery time line.
This is also a good time to establish who the client needs to contact if there’s an issue. Give them clear instructions on what to look for, and whether certain situations can be put off until the next checkup, will require quick medical advice, or may require emergency care.
Even if you only see the pet for an evaluation after recovery, the client will be dealing with the effects on their pet for days or weeks. Something as simple as a get well soon card lets them know they aren’t alone.
Make Visits to Your Clinic Feel a Little More Special
Positive Impressions, LLC has helped veterinary clinics for over a decade, providing them with products they need to stay connected to their clients. From pharmacy labels and appointment reminder cards to goodie bags and memorial products, we have a wide range of items that keep your business on your clients’ minds. We offer custom printing for most of the products we carry, so you can add contact information and unique graphics that fit your practice. Visit our website to see what we offer, or check out our Facebook page to see our latest specials.