Running a veterinary practice can be a stressful but rewarding experience. Not only do you get to provide hands-on patient care to families' pets, but you also get to manage the full-service veterinary experience for your clients. Often, the folks seeking veterinary care for their furry loved ones are worried about their pet's health and wondering about the prospect of paying for treatment that's generally not covered by any health insurance policy.
Fortunately, by improving the way you conduct patient intake before surgical procedures that require anesthesia, not only will you be able to improve the confidence and comfort your clients feel with their pets' future care, but you may even reduce the risk of anesthesia-related complications. A thorough intake that covers all the bases in a compassionate (rather than combative) manner can ensure positive outcomes for all involved. Read on for some tips and tricks you can implement during the intake process to reduce the risk of anesthesia complications in your canine and feline patients.
Best Practices For Patient Intake
Many anesthesia problems and post-surgical complications can be predicted with a fair amount of accuracy at patient intake. Patients that are of an advanced age, have a higher-than-healthy BMI, or are dealing with health challenges like asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, or even certain allergies, may be at a higher risk of complications from certain categories of drugs. While this doesn't mean surgery can't be performed on patients that have these comorbidities, it does mean you'll need to take some extra steps to minimize complications before, during, and after the procedure.
Unfortunately, not all these comorbidities may be apparent during a brief intake exam, which means you'll need to rely on the honesty and memory of the person bringing in his or her pet. Using a well-trained veterinary assistant, rather than a receptionist, to conduct the intake exam can ensure that the patient's medical file is made complete and any potential problems are brought to the veterinarian's attention well in advance of the procedure.
You'll also want to ensure your intake professionals are keeping a close eye on clients who may not be able to read the form or understand it. Some patients may seem reluctant to sign the form, while others may rush to sign it without even attempting to skim it. You may want to have a brief, easy-to-understand version of the consent form translated into several languages most common in your area to ensure all your clients are providing truly informed consent to the veterinary surgical procedures you perform.
Implementing Changes In Your Veterinary Practice
Fortunately, making these changes to your own veterinary practice should be a fairly simple process. First, you'll want to review your current consent forms to make sure they're easy to understand and include all the necessary information your clients will need.
Next, you'll want to develop a formal intake protocol that will ensure all surgical patients are treated in the same manner. By having a set process instead of just handling these situations on the fly with whatever staff may be available, you'll minimize the risk of complications and will be better able to operate your practice in an organized and streamlined manner.
Finally, you'll also need to ensure your clients are well aware of any food or drink restrictions before surgery. Dealing with a hungry pet on the way to the vet can be a challenge, but owners who feed their pet within the 12-hour window before surgery could be putting them at risk of asphyxiation or pneumonia if they vomit during surgery or recovery and inhale it into their lungs. Emphasizing this in a firm but compassionate way can help your clients do the right thing.
Contact a company like Keebovet to learn more about anesthesia systems available to you.