Policy Changes for Staff Safety

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Hello All, and Happy New Year!
We hope that this year has kicked off as nicely for you as it has for us. With the New Year, come new discussions amongst the staff and new policies to be put in place. There is one in particular that we wanted to share with you.
Up until now, when a patient has required x-rays of any kind there has been two of our staff members in the room with the pet. Unlike in human medicine, these staff members must stay in the room with the patient to aid in positioning while the x-ray is being taken. Although we have done everything in our abilities to keep our staff safe from the dangers of radiation (lead gowns, thyroid protectors and gloves, along with monitors that are sent to the Ministry of Health), these measures do not completely protect them from what is called “scatter radiation”. Scatter radiation is created when a beam of radiation (which is how are x-rays are taken) hits a solid object, such as the table that the patient is laying on. The table reflects this radiation and it is sent out into the immediate surrounding environment, hitting anything in the room, including the staff that is holding the pet still. In recent news, there was a veterinarian in Toronto who developed cancer in her tongue; the cause was determined to be – scatter radiation. Although the amount of radiation that we are exposed to is fairly small, over the years it adds up.
We feel that at this stage we would rather not put our staff in harm’s way unless absolutely necessary. There are numerous emergency and referral clinics in Toronto as well as a growing number of smaller clinics that have taken this position with success.
So what does this mean for you? Moving forward, should a patient require x-rays they will be admitted into the clinic and mildly sedated so that they are unable to move during the taking of the x-rays. Of course there are situations that this may not be the best course of action for the pet, and previous methods of control by our staff will be used. For the benefit of our staff’s health, we feel this is an ideal solution in cases where it is safe to sedate a pet. We understand that additional costs to your pet’s health care bill are not always welcome; however our hope is that by sharing this information with you that you in turn will understand our reason behind our decision. We all have long lives to live and it is our duty as an employer to make sure that we do all that we can to keep our employees safe.
We appreciate your commitment to the bond between you and your pet. We value each and every one of our clients and our goal is to do all that we can to help strengthen that bond between pet and owner by keeping your pet in good health.

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