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It shouldn’t happen to a vet ... but it could

by
01 November 2014, at 12:00am

Janine Revill of Clinic Insure offers some advice on ensuring that your practice is a safe place for both staff and visitors and outlines what to do, and what not to do, if an accident happens.

WHEN pets are sick or injured, the first place everyone runs to is you, their vet, and rightly so. Your first and foremost priority is to care for the injured or sick animals; unfortunately, you also need to consider your customers who are visiting your clinic or you may end up with more patients than you bargained for!

We have some excellent tips to ensure that your clinic is a safe place for all of your visitors. Here are a few tips to keep it that way:

  • appoint a suitably qualified individual to take on the responsibility of risk prevention and the management of health and safety; 
  • carry out inspections at regular intervals to waiting room areas and any area that your visiting customers have access to; 
  • clear up spills, etc.;
  • ensure that any steps are lit or clearly marked; 
  • torn or worn flooring, carpets or carpet tiles can be a tripping hazard; keep an inspection log – this will defend any claims;
  • have all stairs got handrails?; If an incident occurs, lack of evidence makes defending a claim difficult:
  • if necessary,appropriate first aid treatment should be provided by a suitably qualified person, or contact the emergency services;
  • where required, make the are a safe;
  • take photographs of the incident scene;
  • record initial accident details (e.g. the names of those involved, the circumstances and details of any witnesses); 
  • report the accident to the person responsible for health and safety at the clinic who will decide what further action (if any) is required.

You must always report any incident to your insurance company and forward all correspondence you receive from a third party or solicitor, unanswered. Do not admit liability to the third party or solicitor.

A seemingly small incident could have very serious consequences to your business if you are not properly insured. The following example shows how a small injury can have very dramatic financial consequences.

Personal injury claim following public liability accident in local clinic 

A 23-year-old woman, while visiting her local vet, slipped on a spillage in the waiting room, she put her arms out to grab for something to gain her balance but there were only small chairs near her and as she tumbled towards them a man who was standing nearby tried to catch her but he was too late. As a result there was nothing to stop her falling and she landed awkwardly on the hard floor, putting her arm out to break her fall.

The clinic manager saw the commotion and went over to where the slipping accident had occurred to investigate.

She made the woman comfortable, called for an ambulance and filled out the clinic’s accident book while she waited with the woman.

The medic suspected that she had sprained her ankle and broken her right arm and took her to hospital to be examined by a doctor. After a thorough examination and an x-ray it was confirmed that she had sustained a sprain to her ankle and a fracture to her arm which would put her out of action as a restaurant chef for at least four weeks.

When the woman spoke to a friend about what had happened her friend advised that she should make a personal injury compensation claim.

She offered to have a look online and do some research into what’s involved and she passed on our website address. The clinic admitted liability for the slipping accident and offered the woman an out-of-court settlement of £7,400 which she accepted and put towards payments for physiotherapy treatment which is proving successful.

Make sure you take all possible steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you. 

  • For information on ClinicInsure, contact Kathryn Thompson on 0845 600 8288 or see www.clinicinsure.com.