August 2015



Phone (908) 823-4607-

Strategic Negotiation: Babies, Bosses, and Pregnancy Plans
This paper focuses on empowering female veterinarians and staff to more effectively conduct strategic negotiations with employers. Examples provided largely (but not entirely) focus on topics related to pregnancy and childbirth, but these techniques can be applied to a far wider range of issues. Strategies discussed include recommendations on how to prepare for a negotiation, defining appropriate accommodations to request, and presenting a strong case.

Ask Dr. Lacroix:  What duty do we have to disclose another veterinarian's medical error?
If, after you have conducted a thorough investigation, you conclude that a previous veterinarian did, in fact, breach the standard of care, what if any duty do you have to disclose your findings to the client (or to the authorities)?
If the sole purpose of your inquiries was to investigate the previous veterinarian's care (i.e., you are not providing ongoing medical care to the client's pet but were merely retained by the client to conduct an investigation), then you have a legal duty to disclose all of your findings to the client because that is what the client has paid for.
On the other hand, if your inquiries were part of the due diligence required of you in assuming ongoing responsibility for the client's pet, you should consult your state's practice acts and codes of conduct as they may impose a legal duty on you to report substandard care provided by another veterinarian. For example, the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine - Rules of Professional Conduct provide that:
1(e)   Veterinarians shall safeguard the public and the veterinary profession against veterinarians deficient in professional competence, professional conduct or ethical conduct as described in this chapter.

(1)   When a veterinarian knows or has reason to believe that a professional colleague's actions demonstrate deviation from or failure to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing veterinary medical practice or professional incompetence, a veterinarian should bring the behavior to the attention of the colleague.

(2)   A veterinarian shall bring the behavior of another veterinarian to the attention of the board by sending a written report to ... if one or more of the following applies.

      (i)   The veterinarian cannot informally resolve an issue of the deviation from or failure to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing veterinary medical practice or professional incompetence with the other veterinarian.

     (ii)  The veterinaian learns of repeated deviation from or failure to conform to the standards of acceptable and revailing medical practice, professional incompetence or misconduct.

    (iii)  The matter involves animal abuse or neglect. 
In addition to any legal duty that may exist, you arguably have an ethical duty to speak up. In particular, the AVMA's Principles provide that "Veterinarians should be honest, fair, courteous, considerate and compassionate" (italics added). In addition, recall that the Principles are guided by the Golden Rule - only this time you are looking at the situation from the perspective of the client and asking yourself: "If I was the client, what would I want to be told?"

Each month we will try an answer a submitted question.  If you have a question you would like one of our consultants to answer: Submit them here

Practical Solutions for Effectively Managing Your Greatest Asset - Your People

There is no greater challenge in veterinary medicine today than recruiting, hiring, managing, and retaining talented people. Now you can find answers to your most pressing human resources questions and get a people management resources guide, all in one complete kit.

The Human Resources Tool Kit simplifies the overall approach to people management in your practice, by providing you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive tools, tips, and practical tactics to managing employees of all levels.

Developed by Charlotte Lacroix, DVM, JD, The Human Resources Tool Kit offers simple, actionable strategies, plans, and forms you can start using right away - along with a wealth of information to guide you. The Kit provides a broad overview of various laws and regulations governing the employee/employer relationship. With an indexed listing of the most common workplace challenges and solutions, you'll learn "best practices" in dealing with:
  • Recruitment/Hiring
  • Orientation
  • Employee Records
  • Compensation
  • Performance Management
  • Discipline/Termination
  • HR Compliance Audit
Recruit, Retain, Realize, Relax! Order today.
In This Issue
Workplace Bullying... Is it a big deal? 
Bullying, as defined by the Workplace Bullying Institute, is "repeated, health-harming mistreatment" of one or multiple targets, with abusive conduct that is "threatening, humiliating, or intimidating." It can also include work interference and or verbal abuse. There is a high percentage of employers reported as denying, discounting, encouraging, rationalizing or defending bullying. Although workplace bullying is clearly inappropriate and unacceptable behavior - and may create a hostile work environment - it is not specifically prohibited by any federal or state law. However, employees should address bullying because if the offending behavior is pervasive enough to be considered threatening, intimidating or creating an environment full of hostility, there is potential for a legal claim against the employer.
There are a few ways to identify workplace bullying: demeaning employees through intimidation and/or not giving them the credit they deserve; creating impossible-to-meet demands; limiting the amount of relevant information provided to employees and/or interfering with appropriate interaction among them. Additionally, there are different forms of bullying. Some bullies may yell, while others may never raise their voices. Some may make demeaning statements directly to employees, while others resort to behind-the back criticisms and insults. Some may be aggressive; others, passive aggressive, "forgetting" to respond to important emails, to provide needed supplies and the like, or by putting down an employee and then claiming that it was just a joke. A more recent addition is cyber-bullying, which can include humiliating and/or intimidating emails, text messages and/or social media postings.
Even if the bullying does not reach the level of illegal behavior, it can affect both employee morale and have serious financial consequences   For example, workplace bullying can result in people suffering significant emotional problems, including anxiety, depression, poor concentration, substance abuse and lowered self-esteem. Physical disorders can also occur, such as gastrointestinal disorders, headaches and insomnia. As a result, the practice will suffer with increased turnover and absenteeism rates, increased health care costs, and lowered productivity and morale. Employees should respond accordingly to bullying behaviors and report unresolved bullying and harassment through appropriate channels.
Providing feedback and/or sharing honest differences of opinion is not considered workplace bullying, even when that involves making legitimate complaints in a professional manner. Supervisors and managers need to give feedback about job duties and deadlines; provide performance evaluations; discipline employees; and announce layoffs, promotions and the like - and, when done in a respectful manner, these actions do not constitute bullying.
Practice owners and managers must take all claims seriously and must investigate the claims and take firm corrective action whenever bullying behaviors are confirmed. Each practice should create an anti-bullying policy, one that is communicated to the entire staff, included in the employee manual, and reviewed each year. This policy must specifically define bullying, along with listing unacceptable behaviors. Additionally training should be provided to all staff members.

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2015 - Veterinary Business Advisors, Inc.
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