Risk can be defined as a probability of loss caused by
injury or neglect, that may be avoided through preventive measures.
Risk management in a
healthcare system can be defined as an organized effort to identify, and reduce
risk to patients and staff members. Risk management is often used in a
proactive manner but in some organization, they use risk management as a
reactive tool. In a healthcare system, there is a significant amount of threat
posed due to the complex nature of the procedures and the healthcare
information system infrastructure. The patient demographics coupled with the
external and internal pressure from the healthcare systems’ stakeholders can
cripple an organization if a reliable risk management program is not in place.
There is an element of risk management in most processes
in a healthcare system. For licensure and accreditation, organizations are
required to develop and maintain a risk management program that is
comprehensive and is able to provide adequate coverage against the organization’s
liability loss. Some states and accreditation agencies will have different
requirements, but the consistent theme is that an effective risk management
program’s goal is to protect the lives and wellbeing of organization’s patients
and employees. Along with a program, before an organization can receive a
Medicare reimbursement, they must provide documentation on the organization’s
use of information to improve patient outcomes and reduce medical errors. Accounting
for information risk is very critical to an organization, especially in a
healthcare system. Majority of the medical errors in a healthcare system is
caused by inadequate information flow, and technical failures. With a
comprehensive risk management program, a lot of errors can be avoided by
putting technical safeguards in place and ensuring that all employees are
trained to standard. This will
inevitably help in the prevention of potential loss.
Risk management in a
healthcare system is conducted by the organizations that are aware of great
risks that comes with providing patient care.
Most organizations that proactively pursue risk management are usually
more advanced when it comes to ensuring patient safety and providing the best
quality of care to its patients. Below is a list of five benefits of a good
risk management program.
1. Many states require healthcare
facilities to have an established risk management program in order to qualify
for a Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement. Without this program, some healthcare organizations
may not receive the necessary licensure needed to run a business in that state.
2. Medical Errors is one of the most
leading cause of death in the United States. According to the World Health
Organization (WHO), there is a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of a traveler being harmed
while in an airplane. In comparison, there is a 1 in 300 chance of a patient
being harmed during healthcare (WHO, 2014). This is a serious risk that many
people do not pay attention to. Accounting for information risk could significantly
decrease the human errors made by healthcare providers and provide a safeguard
for Patient information.
3. A good risk management program is
critical in identifying a weakness in the system before the failure occurs,
thus saving the organization money spent either on litigations or collateral
4. An effective risk management program
will provide many opportunities for quality improvement surveys, which will set
the standard of care and eventually positively impact patient outcomes.
5. Risk Management relates to all risks in
an organization; from building safety to medical equipment maintenance plan. It
provides the key leaders the necessary tools needed to improve a process and is
vital to the decision making process.
World Health Organization
Internet. 10 facts on patient safety, 2014. updated 2014 Jun; cited 2016 Jan
15. Available from: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/patient_safety/en/.