Veterinary Care and Covid-19 | Essential Guidance
Following the Prime Ministers announcement on the 23rd March 2020, veterinary care and services have been confirmed as one of the sectors classed as an essential service. Our safety team have reviewed the key current guidance and put together a round-up of essential advice for the veterinary care sector.
Veterinary Care Sector | Key Safety Procedures
To ensure veterinary care and services plays its part in controlling the spread of COVID-19 the following can be implemented:
- Ask all pet owners to call the practice in advance before arranging a visit.
- Keep pet owners up to date with the practice measures, this can be done through social media channels, phone or direct through the post.
- Place clear notices at entrances to remind visitors of the practice measures.
- Ensure that the number of clients seen face to face are kept to an absolute minimum.
- Use of the telephone, video calls to obtain a history of the animal or to consult remotely.
- Payment can be obtained over the phone or by BACS.
- Following a remote assessment if it is deemed necessary that a pet will require physical treatment, then staffing levels should be kept to a minimum when the pet arrives.
- Consider installing a pickup box located outside the practice for pre-arranged medicine collection, prescription or any other items.
Manage Social Distancing
- Ensure where practicable that all external practice doors are always kept closed/locked.
- Pet owners should make the practice aware when they have arrived, this can be done by phone or ringing the doorbell.
- Pets can be collected from outdoors.
- Where it is possible, pet owners should remain outside whilst the pet is being examined.
- Consider having a telephone conversation with the pet owner whilst examining the pet.
- Consider organising a home visit.
- Once the examination has been complete, treatment plans can be discussed and agreed over the phone.
- Where you need to refer a pet to a hospital/centre, discuss the hospital/centres measures with them in advance prior to arrangements with the pet owner regarding transporting the pet either by the owner or the practice.
- Medication can be posted, providing you follow the ‘post office’s’ guidance and where applicable follow the RCVS for controlled drugs guidance.
- Arrange for clients to arrive when it is the quietest time of the day.
Good Hygiene Practices
- Ensure that suitable protective clothing such as disposal gloves, apron or overalls are used.
- After consultation, adhere to cleaning, disinfection procedures of surfaces and equipment only using ‘virucidal’ products.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often, do this for at least 20 seconds.
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available.
- Wash your hands as soon as you get homes.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
Managing Practice Resources
- Do not stockpile medicines.
- Ensure supplies of essential medicines, including oxygen and analgesia are preserved.
- If possible, split the team to minimize disruption due to employees self-isolating.
- Where possible, see if other local practices are willing to share resources and rotas.
- It is worth considering staggering breaks in between shifts.
Face to Face Consultation
The following definitions may help with the decision-making process when deciding if a face to face consultation is needed:
Emergency –Immediate threat to life, significant impact on welfare/health and/or likely to deteriorate if left untreated.
Urgent –Significant impact on welfare/health but currently stable or will have a moderate impact but significant risk of deterioration.
Non-Urgent/Routine –Minor impact on welfare/health and unlikely to deteriorate.
Speak to our team of Health and Safety Consultants for helpful advice surrounding Covid-19 for your veterinary practice.