Working with animals is a rewarding career.
But it doesn’t come without risks. All veterinary practices must ensure staff are safe and are trained in safety procedures. This will help to keep staff, patients and owners protected too.
The risks found in a vets clinic can vary from minor to very dangerous. All need to be considered, and procedures should be put in place to minimise these risks.
Before handling an animal, staff need to assess the patient. Talking to the owner and getting an understanding of the animal’s temperament will help. Staff should also be trained in appropriate handling techniques. If unsure, less experienced team members should get help from somebody with more experience. Pets are usually loveable creatures, but when they are scared and possibly in pain, their personalities may change, and all staff need to be mindful of this.
There are plenty of hazardous substances found in a veterinary clinic. They can include:
- Animal medications
- Sterilising chemicals
- Cleaning products
All these products should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. They should be stored securely and labelled clearly. Again, staff should be trained to understand how to use these substances safely.
Trips and Falls
As in any workplace, there is a danger that a team member or a pet owner may trip, slip or fall in your clinic. Many veterinary practices opt for non-slip floors to try to avoid this. Another thing you can do is make sure all spills are cleaned immediately. Ensure no electrical cords are trailing and don’t leave boxes in walkways or on the floor where people can trip over them.
Diseases carried by animals can be transmitted to humans, so care must be taken when treating animals. Diseases such as bartonellosis or cat scratch disease, leptospirosis or ringworm can all be passed to humans. This means that anyone treating or caring for an animal patient should wear gloves. This is especially important if there is a wound on the person’s hand. Gloves are not a substitute for handwashing which should always be carried out before and after handling the patient. All areas should also be cleaned thoroughly to help prevent cross-contamination.
Syringes are regularly used in veterinary practices to inject drugs or take blood samples. They can also be used to tranquillise or anaesthetise animal patients. Because these sharps are then contaminated with the patient’s blood and bodily fluids, they present a significant health risk and should be disposed of properly.
All used sharps should be disposed of in a clearly labelled container that is puncture and leak-resistant with a lid.
Bodily Fluids and Blood
As with any environment that carries out surgery and looks after ill patients, staff will be exposed to blood and bodily fluids. It should always be treated as a potential danger, and care should always be taken when exposed.
Staff should wear gloves and other PPE when close to or touching blood or bodily fluids. Again, hands should be washed immediately after gloves have been removed. The areas where exposure may have occurred need to be cleaned and disinfected carefully to minimise the spreading or splashing of droplets. Appropriate cleaning and disinfecting should be used when bodily fluids are spilt.
Most surgical equipment is reusable and should therefore be cleaned and sterilised correctly. Manual sterilisation can take too long, and there’s no guarantee that the instruments will be safe to re-use. That’s why many veterinary clinics are investing in washer-disinfectors. Not only do they save your team time, but they’re also economical, and they can reprocess a large number of surgical equipment at the same time. They also minimise the handling of contaminated equipment which in turn reduces the risk of infection.
Keeping Everyone Safe
Using a washer-disinfector in your clinic means you are keeping everyone safe. Your patients will be safe because the equipment you’re using is cleaned and sterilised properly. Your staff are safe because they are less exposed to risk, and pet owners are safe because there is little chance of infection outbreaks.
Dekomed knows that safety is one of your main priorities, and we will work together with you to help you find the ideal washer-disinfector. We will also help you install it and offer an after-care service. We don’t want anything to stop you from running a safe clinic. You focus on caring for your furry friends, and we’ll make sure your equipment is safe to use.
If you would like to find out more, get in touch.
Tel: +44 (0)161 483 7333