What do you do when a patient wants to bring in a companion animal?

This topic has 4 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 1 year, 6 months ago by Avatar Donnalussier.

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    With many individuals relying on the regular presence of emotional support/companion animals, it can be a challenge for healthcare providers to know how best to balance the needs of different patients with unique conditions. Have you encountered this dilemma? How have you handled the situation? Do you have questions or advice for others?


    I find this practice problematic. I worry about infection control. Also what about allergies or fear of staff or other patients? I have staff who are afraid of dogs and cats.


    Patients have called in the past and asked if they could bring support animals to their appointments. We referred them to the patient advocate department who could address the situation professionally.


    If they are a true certified assistance/companion animal, by law, you must allow them to be with their partner. Having a sister-in-law who trained service dogs with an organization that was certified by the Assistance Dogs International organization, and also has her own service dog, she is very familiar with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

    These animals are generally the healthiest, cleanest, and least intrusive you will ever see and once they are in and settled, most people will never know they are there.

    I work in a large hospital in eastern NC and we have had patients with service dogs you never knew were there unless you went into the room or someone was taking them out to potty.


    I love animals and I believe in the cause of disciplined animals as companions and/or assistances for disabled persons. However, because the infusion room is “shared” by others, there are patients who have allergies to particular animals. No matter how clean they are you can not get rid of dander. A dog, by the mere activity of walking, releases dander into the air. And about 3 times more if they scratch themselves.

    According to the ADA guidelines, service animals are allowed to go where any public can go. Operating rooms, burn units, and infusion rooms are not “open” to the public. Only the patient and or visitor are allowed to go. These infusion rooms are considered “clean” areas where drugs are mixed using sterile technique. Most patients in an infusion area are immunocompromised and infection is a concern.

    Then there is the concern that the animal may act up therefore the patient should bring in a companion that will tend to the dog if need be.

    As much as I would love to see patient bring their companion animal into the infusion room, I would need to respect the other patient’s condition and not allow them. If the rooms weren’t openly shared, we would consider them.


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