“Wait—what? Two employees broke bones falling down, and your clinic still refused to fix the floor?” I stammered.

I admit that I had zoned out a bit when my friend, a veterinarian in Miami, started to talk about floor sealant. Now she had my attention. “Can you start over?” I asked.

In early 2004, Dr. Zimmler was working in a practice that had undergone a major renovation. The updated facility was beautiful, but there was a problem with the hallway leading to the grooming and boarding areas. Whenever the floor got wet, it became dangerously slippery. The problem appeared immediately after a new sealant was applied.

The staff believed the contractors had simply used the wrong sealant, but the practice management elected not to address this concern with the builders. Whether factors like cost or construction deadlines played into the decision was unknown to the staff. What wasknown is that everyone fell down—a lot.

In the first year, two staff members broke bones in accidents related to the floor. Rather than have the floors repaired, management instructed staff members to purchase special nonslip shoes to prevent further injury. Tours of the back half of the hospital were discontinued, and grumblings over the cost of slip-free footwear began.

A relative of one of the staff members worked in the flooring industry and offered to refinish the floor at no cost. To Dr. Zimmler, this seemed like a gift from the heavens. Management, however, perceived the offer as an insult and rejected it. As far as we know, slip-and-fall injuries are still occurring in the clinic today.



Originally Published: DVM360, September 2013