The three Cs of avoiding complaints
The best way to deal with a client complaint is to avoid it, says attorney Douglas Jack, past president of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association. Here are three items that will help you stay complaint-free.
1. Competence. If you provide competent medical care and meet your state's standards, you'll reduce the likelihood that clients will complain. But you do need to maintain that competence. Keep your skills up to date by attending CE—and send your staff, too. In your practice, fix broken equipment immediately and replace machines that are beyond repair.
2. Communication. The vast majority of complaints result from miscommunication, Jack says. It's up to you to be sure clients understand the reasoning behind the care you provide. Thoughtfully explain your treatments and surgical plans, and always obtain documented informed consent. Be candid about your fees, and address client concerns as soon as they arise, Jack says. By being open with clients, you'll build strong relationships.3. Compassion. Dealing with less-than-desired results is crucial. If treatments or surgeries fail and pets become more ill or die, you must acknowledge your clients' loss. It's becoming accepted—and encouraged—to offer an apology, Jack says. A simple "I'm sorry" is no longer considered an admission of fault, but rather a demonstration of genuine concern.