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Veterinary Forum June 2007 (Vol 24, No 6)

Doctor to Doctor: "Buffing up behind-the-scenes"

by Ronald E. Whitford, DVM

    Previous segments of this series on "Creating a Professional Atmosphere" have focused on areas that are highly visible. We now will be concentrating on behind-the-scenes. Veterinary clinics are increasingly offering extensive tours to show how they outshine area competitors. So, let's take a mini-tour of your diagnostic offerings, and next month, we'll do the same for treatment, surgical and pharmaceutical services.

    Laboratory services

    The laboratory area should be set up to conduct analyses of blood, urine and fecal matter as well as heartworm and leukemia testing. You need to portray a technologically advanced diagnostic capability that fosters sterility, speed and accuracy.

    The laboratory should look organized and well planned, with specific space dedicated for microscopy, centrifugation, urinalysis, blood chemistry, cytology and other testing procedures.

    A minimally equipped in-house laboratory can do:

    • Complete blood count and blood chemistry profile
    • Urinalysis and fecal testing
    • Blood urea nitrogen measurement
    • Blood glucose measurement
    • Microhematocrit assessment
    • Cytology staining
    • Fungal cultures
    • Heartworm and leukemia testing

    When giving a tour, emphasize that speed is often critical, especially in emergency situations or before surgery, and how your laboratory is equipped to conduct blood work and obtain accurate results in fewer than 20 minutes.

    Imaging and diagnostic services

    Minimally, diagnostic services should include radiology, ultrasonography and electrocardiography, but most clinics also offer endoscopy and some have digital dental radiography.

    Make sure that all areas have features that promote staff and patient safety. Aprons, gloves and thyroid protection should be highly visible to everyone who tours your facility. Safety forms and radiation dosing charts likewise should be visibly posted, along with any warning signage.

    If your clinic conducts endoscopy, stress how this procedure allows views of the trachea, esophagus, colon and bladder for diagnosing gastric ulcers or foreign objects, colon polyps or bleeding tumors. If your clinic performs scans, explain how they can provide valuable information about ultrasound of the kidneys, liver, spleen and heart.

    Dental radiography is another valuable tool for evaluating conditions that occur below the gum line. Many pet owners are unaware that oral disease can affect the pet's overall health and may be responsible for gastrointestinal and cardiac problems.

    Of course, all areas should be well lighted, sanitary and odor free. Otherwise, even a well-equipped clinic will leave an unpleasant image in the minds of pet owners.

    NEXT: Editor's Note: "Talk the talk, lose the weight"

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