Who's tuning in to private discussions?

Jan 01, 2008

Mrs. Busibodi's eyes say she's examining your tastefully displayed practice brochure, but her dog-like hearing is tuned to eavesdrop so she can catch all the juicy details about Mr. Neverpay's past-due account. Sharing client or patient information among team members is necessary to successfully treat pets. But how do you keep from accidentally disclosing confidential information to other clients? Caitlin Rivers, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and a veterinary assistant and technician supervisor at Metzger Animal Hospital in State College, Pa., suggests creating a practice protocol for sensitive information.

Team members at Metzger Animal Hospital share case information at twice-daily meetings in the hospital's treatment area. A dry-erase board helps them track the details and updates of the day's cases. Meetings take place 15 minutes before appointments begin to eliminate the opportunity for a client to overhear. For updates, team members discreetly share information with doctors by posting sticky notes on the pet's medical chart while the client and patient wait in the exam room. The doctors know to look for these notes and dispose of them before entering the room. If a conversation is necessary, team members are trained to walk to the back of the practice, out of earshot.