How Veterinary Checklists Can Save You Hours Every Week

5 min read

Whether it comes as second nature to you or is something you need to work on, being organized within your veterinary practice has many benefits. One of the most comfortable and effective changes you can make to your routine is using veterinary checklists.

The small amount of time and effort it takes to put these checklists in place on your own or even browsing the internet for freely available checklists will help you become more efficient and have you reaping the rewards for years to come.

Research with 7,688 human patients in eight hospitals worldwide shows a drop in death rates to 0.8% after using checklists from 1.5%. Furthermore, serious complication rates in New Delhi, Tanzania, Ifakara, and Seattle dropped from 11% to 7%.

A checklist may seem like a somewhat dull tool to have in your practice management toolbox, but it is far from it! The humble checklist not only prevents you from making errors; it can save you precious time every single day. Your co-workers will be amazed at what a well-oiled machine your practice becomes once you are routinely using checklists.

Free Download: 5 Veterinary Time-Saving Checklists

Veterinary checklists for multiple purposes

Checklists can be used in various areas; they are wonderfully versatile. Some of the more common checklists used in veterinary clinics include:

  • Veterinary Triage Checklists (to attend to emergency patients)
  • Inpatient Checklists 
  • The ‘Weekly’ Veterinary Housekeeping Checklist (this may include bathroom cleaning, shelf stocking, and checking sell-by dates)
  • COVID-19 safety checklist (relevant especially in the current climate)

When we have a comprehensive checklist in front of us, we can complete each task in record time.

Offers the perfect fail-safe method

Having a checklist that includes all of your critical weekly tasks is paramount. It prevents disasters from occurring and keeps staff and pet owners happy. For example, you may put ‘pay staff wages’ on your list. While this may be an obvious thing you would rarely forget to do, a checklist means you have a dependable safety net. You certainly don’t want to wake up in a sweat on Friday night, realizing you have forgotten.

Drives practice staff productivity

Using your veterinary checklists will soon become a streamlined activity and will naturally mean you have more time. By having an efficient system in place, your productivity is sure to increase. Your ‘brain space’ will be freed up to work on more crucial tasks and spend more time with your staff. The benefits will be felt across the practice as a whole, resulting in improved client satisfaction and practice growth.

Helps ensure safer pet care

Working in the veterinary industry, you know how important safety is when it comes to pet patients. Owners sometimes ask about your safety record when it comes to anesthesia and surgery. By ensuring veterinarians use a ‘Surgical Safety’ Veterinary Checklist for every procedure that involves anesthetic, we prevent errors from occurring. Amazingly, a Swedish study in the International Journal of Surgery demonstrated a 10% reduction in post-op complications when a checklist was implemented.

When we prevent errors before they have occurred, we don’t have to spend time cleaning up the mess’. Those client conversations about mistakes and complications can be the most challenging and draining and are best avoided where possible.

Spreads out responsibilities

Insisting that one person is responsible for each checklist is a good idea. To lessen the burden, consider giving each team member a different checklist. For example, surgical checklists being owned by nurses or technicians, housekeeping checklists being owned by practice managers, and new patient onboarding checklists being owned by receptionists.

The above will help prevent errors from occurring and bring to light those team members who may need more training in certain areas. Checklists can be rotated between individuals if preferred.

Increases pet owner confidence

Not only will your staff be happy working in an organized clinic, but using checklists will also gain pet owners’ trust. Did you know that 93% of people surveyed in one study said they would prefer if their surgeon used a surgical checklist?

This statistic should not be ignored! The impression that it gives is of a slick and modern practice that is keen to maintain high standards. Checklists take mere minutes to fill in, but the benefits are long-lasting.

Makes delegation easier

We all appreciate that delegating in a veterinary practice can get awkward and uncomfortable at times. Individual employees dislike being directly told what to do. We may put off delegating in the hope that the task gets done in its own time.

However, working like this creates unnecessary anxiety and reduces productivity and efficiency. Instead, we can use a checklist that delegates specific tasks to individual staff members. This fair and straightforward approach avoids confrontation and prevents time-wasting. No longer will you have to spend your valuable minutes seeking staff out and directly telling them what they have to do; they will already know!

Motivates team members

Veterinary checklists can be used for a multitude of purposes. They can be put up around the practice, be pinned to your computer (or tablet) home screen, or kept on a bulletin board. Ticking off each ‘completed’ task helps keep staff motivated. There’s also something profoundly satisfying about filling in that last tick!

Implementing checklists in your practice

The benefits of veterinary checklists are vast, and they inevitably result in a more efficient and well-organized practice – resulting in hours saved every week. If you haven’t started to use them yet, ask yourself why?

You can easily create a spreadsheet to manage this, search Veterinary Checklists in Google for inspiration, or download one of our free 5 Time-Saving Veterinary Checklists here. Trust us, you won’t look back!