Some practical thoughts about Risk Management
Risk management can be challenging. We know that we are responsible for “managing risk”, but what does that really mean?
In practical terms, we support a culture of safety to reduce risk as it relates to our daily operations. If you think about it, so many of our daily and routine activities are geared towards this goal.
Compare it to how you keep yourself safe when you drive your car. Your daily activities include putting on your seat belt, adjusting your seat and mirrors, not texting and driving (I hope), making sure you have enough gas in your tank, and that there are no safety light warnings. Your routine audits include oil changes, mechanical checks, and routine maintenance. We can’t eliminate the risks of driving in traffic, but we make sure we are as safe as possible to do so.
Every day, you are screening your patients to make sure they are safe to have surgery, by identifying and marking surgical sites, performing time outs, labeling meds, assessing patients for fall risk and complications – the list is practically endless.
You are also performing routine audits that provide the checks and balances to your overall processes – your “routine maintenance”. Hand hygiene and safe injection practice audits, peer review, infection control and complication surveys, and even patient satisfaction surveys contribute to your risk management audit checks. If we make sure our staff reports any activities that vary from standard of care, (the engine light came on), this becomes key in managing risk as well.
So, if we think about managing risk as all the activities we perform, monitor and respond to as key activities that support and improve patient safety, we can then define our risk management processes. If we list out those activities and processes, we can make sure our Risk Management plan reflects all that work.
We can consider the audits and activities as part of the assessment part of the plan.
The results of these activities allow us to evaluate issues or problems that have occurred, and our response includes our activities to either mitigate or prevent problems to reduce risk.
Promoting a culture of safety is key so that you are not trying to manage risk alone. This means that everyone needs to be on board – from your Governing Body, to your Medical Staff and all your employees as well. Education and communication are the best ways to accomplish this goal. Ensure everyone understands your Risk Management plan and the key activities to support it. This includes making risk management a routine agenda item in meetings and in-services, as well as education for all. Define the activities everyone does daily and routinely to impact safety, so everyone gets the connection. Make sure that it is clearly understood that reporting all variations from routine care only promote a safety culture and improve risk odds.
The result is that everyone wins. Processes are routinely maintained and monitored to keep us driving along the surgical path as safely as possible.
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Thanks for reading!