Lawsuits and other major issues are the banes of any organization. This holds true especially when it comes to the healthcare industry. The reputation of hospitals and doctors may be irretrievably broken if these are tarnished by negative news, which is why it is very important to cut risks whenever it is possible.
Risk management is a very important part of any medical practice, and risk managers or committees are put into place to prevent any threats, internal or external, from doing damage to the organization or any component of that group. This is a long and continuous process that must be taken very seriously.
Risk management in medical practices follows the same procedures as with any type of business. What you are particularly watching out for, however, can be a bit different. This article discusses how health establishments and private practices can mitigate risks for themselves as well as their patients so that they would be less vulnerable against any type of negative fallout.
Identify Possible Threats
Identifying risks is the most important step that any risk management team should do. At this stage, the team must be able to risk down any problems that may arise within the organization, identify their causes, and rank the severity of their impact should these issues occur.
Some of the most common risks that are very much plausible in the medical industry include:
- Accidental death of a patient
- Medical malpractice suits
- Violation of local and national policies
- Insurance fraud
- Ethical issues concerning health workers
- Security Breaches
- Epidemics or outbreak of disease
Risk assessment is integral as it should encompass all aspects of the organization. Every department should be involved and the risks inherent in all job occupations must be scrutinized.
Once all possible risks and their probability of occurring have been identified, then the team can proceed with developing measures to eliminate or at least minimize the chances of these threats from occurring.
Create Risk Management Plans
The risk management team, in cooperation with department heads, must go through each identified threat. A review of current processes and procedures must be done, and corrections must be made once vulnerabilities have been discovered.
A simple example of this is the management of the risk of theft. Protocols that can be implemented may include putting stocks behind locked doors, having a check-out system for all supplies taken out, and utilizing an inventory system that can easily monitor the ins and outs of all items. Monthly inventory counts can also be done to ensure that system and physical counts match.
Risk management plans must be agreed upon by all personnel. It should also be realistic and practical, although some form of investment must be done such as additional personnel or new software. The plan must also provide a measurable estimation of how well it can minimize the risk that it is trying to solve.
Create Damage Control Protocols
While minimizing risks is highly possible, the probability of it occurring despite all preventive measures undertaken may still be present. Oftentimes, these occurrences can be uncontrollable and can greatly impact the organization.
An accident in the area due to carelessness, an issue regarding one of the personnel, or contamination of samples resulting in misdiagnosis can ruin the reputation of the establishment. As such, there must also be plans on how to minimize the effects of these events.
Hospitals and even individual doctors often hire lawyers or get insurance for just these types of situations. Professional liability insurance can help in mitigating costs when it comes to settlements or litigation due to harm done during the treatment.
Some organizations also hire public relations personnel that are the ones who address the public when it is necessary. Damage control protocols must be set in place to correct, suppress, or other otherwise mitigate any possible losses or damages which may be caused by these events.
Train All Team Members
Once all plans have been made and finalized, it is important to provide all documentation and train all relevant personnel about the new procedures and protocols. It is important for management to monitor if everyone is adhering to the new policies. It may be able possible to refine some procedures on the fly if ever any flaws in the system have been detected.
All new hires must be oriented about the new policies as part of their training. Old staff must otherwise be trained and monitored to ensure that there is no resistance to the protocols and that they can see the benefits of these changes.
Assess and Refine
Once enough time has passed, it would be time to assess whether the new policies set in place have been effective in minimizing risk. These must be measurable and time-bound, so historical data must be present to compare against current information.
Compare incidences such as patient deaths, cost of inventory lost, number of lawsuits, or penalties incurred. If current trends are lower than past ones, then risk management procedures have been successful.
However, there will always be room for improvement, and external changes must always be taken into consideration. As such, it would still be prudent to tweak protocols from time to time as well as educate yourself on issues such as new trends in technology or changing government policies.
It is recommended that risk assessment is done on a semi-annual or annual basis so that you will be kept on your toes to mitigate any potential risks that may go your organization’s way.
While it is unavoidable for an organization to control all risks involved, it is a great practice to come up with ways to prevent them from occurring. This is especially important for hospitals as any hazards can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Learning how to manage risks can definitely save an organization from a lot of damage. As such, it is essential that you do an in-depth review of how you operate and devise plans on ensuring that you are safe from any possible threats that may come from within or outside your group.