The Physician's Role in Risk Management

July 1, 2007 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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The trend in healthcare toward transparency—with initiatives such as quality reporting, pay for performance (P4P), and disclosure of medical errors—has given risk managers an opportunity to build a collaborative and supportive relationship with their facility's medical staff.

Risk management uses processes, methods, and tools to assess what can occur within the healthcare setting and to guide proactive decisions for implementing strategies to reduce or eliminate those risks (Gunderman and Applegate); perhaps the greatest of these risks is patient injury. With greater public scrutiny of healthcare facilities' patient safety initiatives, risk managers are increasingly recruited as resources in development of an organization's patient safety strategies. In an ECRI Institute online survey of risk managers conducted in November 2006, 61% of respondents reported having responsibility for both risk management and patient safety functions. While malpractice lawsuits were once the main source of interaction between risk management and the medical staff, the link between risk management and patient safety now offers a firm foundation for relations between the two groups.

Risk managers must build on this relationship and work with physicians to be perceived as educators and resources for physicians. This Risk Analysis will review ways risk managers can overcome some physicians' misconception that risk management is solely about claims management and provide practical ideas for creating mutually benefi cial alliances with their facility's medical staff, including the following:

To successfully develop a strong and positive rapport with the medical staff, risk managers should first examine how the medical staff currently views the facility's risk management department. Although each medical staff member draws perceptions from actual experiences shared with the facility's...

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