Risk Assessment: Beyond Validating Success

November 1, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Opportunities exist to conduct formal and informal risk assessments aimed at improving patient safety practices, said speakers on October 16, 2017, at the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management conference in Seattle, Washington. Deb McCracken, MHA, RN, CPHRM, FASHRM, Chief Risk Officer at Benefis Health System of Great Falls Montana, stated that a "policy is not really meaningful to staff. They need to know why and how the policy involves them." Implementing comprehensive systems to reduce risk is necessary, but it is also important for risk managers and other leaders to lead by example, to be visible to the staff. An illustration offered by McCracken is her commitment to meet with every new physician to set expectations regarding reducing risk; she recommends all risk managers have an open door policy and conduct regular rounding in physician offices. Shawna Willcox, MBA, CPHRM, Assistant Vice President Clinical Risk Manager, Western Litigation, praised the benefits of investing in risk-management initiatives. She commented that organizations can either "pay for things not to happen or pay for claims once something has happened." She recommends that money be earmarked for patient education resources, online event reporting systems, simulation drills, and patient safety organization (PSO) participation. The panel discussed many opportunities to conduct risk assessments, including daily safety briefings where activities taking place during the past 24 hours are discussed, such as patient harm, employee injuries, complaints, readmissions, equipment failures, and good catches.

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