Are you 'earing what I’m saying?

Are you 'earing what I’m saying?

Five hard truths that veterinary technicians should tell veterinarians about otitis visits. (And if they're not, maybe they should be.)
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Sep 14, 2018

Want better otitis patient management in your practice? Listen to the vet techs. They have something to say ... (Shutterstock.com)

Veterinary technicians have a unique perspective on otitis cases, because of the need for crackin' good client communication, stellar medicine application demonstrations and locking in at least one recheck before the clients head out the door. Here's what they have to teach your hospital's busy veterinarians:

Hard truth No. 1: An otoscope isn’t a shoehorn

Forcing the otoscope down the ear canal may get the veterinarian the view they want, but it hurts and leaves a red, raw area in the ear canal. This makes the animal sensitive and makes everything the pet needs done afterwards more difficult.

Listen up: Instead of ram-rodding the otoscope, extend the ear canal with your hand and adjust the ear canal to the cone, not the other way around.

Hard truth No. 2: Yes, the vet tech sees rods

Believe it or not, technicians do know what they’re looking at on an ear cytology. How often has a veterinary technician in your practice reported the results only to have a doctor check behind instead?

Listen up: Trust your licensed veterinary technicians. They do actually know what they’re looking at.

Hard truth No. 3: Free cleanings are hard work

Do any of your hospital’s doctors give away no-cost ear cleanings? Upset about it? You should be. It’s hard work to clean up two smelly, dirty ears on a bouncing 3-year-old Lab.

Listen up: If it took three people and 15 minutes to finish a task, that’s time worth being compensated for, don’t you think? Giving it away for “free” also trivializes the skill and effort. You don’t see the average pet owner in there doing the ear cleaning for a reason, do you?

Hard truth No. 4: Vet techs get clients to comply

Does the veterinarian seriously think your clients actually put that goopy stuff in their dogs’ ears twice daily for three weeks? Ha! The veterinary technicians are the ones wrestling to get that stuff in during the visit so you can tell exactly how many doses they are or aren’t going to get in.

Listen up: Make compliance easier with newer, simpler long-lasting medications like Claro (Bayer) or Osurnia (Elanco). Taking compliance out of clients’ hands makes happier clients.

Hard truth No. 5: There’s no “one and done” with this stuff

Otitis goes away magically after the first round of treatment, right? Veterinarians get busy and focused on current problems at hand. It’s easy for them to forget about the follow up until they’re seeing the dog back six weeks later for the same problem. Technicians are the client communication and compliance specialists in the practice.

Listen up: Make sure your hospital’s doctors are supporting veterinary technicians by emphasizing the importance of making sure the infection is resolved to clients.

Dr. Michael Nappier is assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia.