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Veterinary Forum January 2007 (Vol 24, No 1)

Doctor to Doctor: "Stat! Hints on Handling Emergencies"

    When clients call about a pet in an emergency situation, make sure they know how to get to the clinic and find out the estimated time before the pet arrives to make sure everyone is prepared to accept the emergency case. Also, be sure that a designated location in the clinic is clean, and equipped, and ready to handle the case. Following are a few other tips that will help make your clinic's experiences with emergency cases a win-win situation:

    • Be sure all staff members have been trained in what constitutes a real pet emergency. Your staff needs to recognize that, in most cases, there is little a pet owner can do to save the pet's life (except possibly hose down a pet affected by a heatstroke), so staff members need to create a sense of urgency in having the client bring the pet to the clinic immediately.
    • Accept the owner's definition of an emergency unless proven otherwise. Often it takes less time to squeeze a pet into the schedule than it might take trying to convince a client that the situation really is not an emergency.
    • If the owner indicates that a pet is bleeding, make sure he or she does not apply a tourniquet. In bleeding situations, the only proper first aid is applying pressure to the wound.
    • If the pet has ingested a toxic substance, the owner should be told to make the pet vomit by immediately administering oral hydrogen peroxide unless the ingested substance is petroleum-based or strong acid or alkali.

    Surefire tips to advance yourself professionally

    • Pursue continuing education.
    • Polish year written and verbal skills.
    • Become a good teacher by mentoring a colleague.
    • Become competent with your computer system.
    • Hone your client service skills. Tact, diplomacy, and assertive marketing skills are key.
    • Master multitasking. Be flexible and able to switch gears quickly.
    • Understand the importance of team building and training.
    NEXT: Editor's Note: "Real Promises for the New Year"


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    These Care Guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions. They are formatted to print and give to your clients for their information.

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