Tips to keep otitis from being a total pain in the ear? Sounds good.
We all know about ear infections and we have all had clients frustrated because of them. People like speedy resolutions and they think that if you're a good vet, you'll just "fix" it. But that's neither ear nor there (sorry, had to). Turn otitis cases from a pain in the ear into a point where your care and compassion can really shine—using these three tips.
1. Manage expectations. Make sure that owners know that ear infections are no picnic. At the very first visit for the ears, warn clients that you are probably beginning a journey together. And no, not a walk in the park. Explain that there can be underlying factors for ear itching and inflammation that can only be managed, not cured—but that you are their partner in the process.
2. Do your diagnostics. Offer to do all the suggested diagnostics: ear cytology, culture and sensitivity, etc. beginning at the initial visit. Clients might not agree to the entire workup at the start, but you are planting the seed right away. Make the standard full workup a part of your treatment plan and make sure all staff members understand those recommendations. Each step should be explained and every team member needs to be aware of the rationale behind the steps in order to answer client questions.
3. Don't bail. Schedule the freaking rechecks. Make sure that you follow up with owners about their dog's response to treatment. Don't just leave them to their own devices—an easy thing to do when it comes to ear visits—which results in you feeling like a careless and ineffective veterinarian and veterinary team. DO NOT DO THAT. You need to know if the ears responded to your first-line treatment plan and you need a maintenance schedule. Build a recheck visit into the cost of your initial otitis examination so that when you call you can explain that follow-up was so crucial that it was already included in the price of the first visit. The maintenance plan, which can include applying drops or cleaning, helps the dog in multiple ways because it forces the owner to really look in the ears and to take ownership of some of the success (or failure) of your treatment plan.