Defining Risk Management
Risk management addresses liability. Risk management in health care considers quality assurance, patient safety, and patients’ rights. Potential areas of risk include medical mistakes, such as mistakes in medication delivery; injury and accidents; and issues of facility management. Any adverse event, which interferes with delivery of care, can result in litigation.
Risk management is proactive when it avoids or prevents risk and reactive when it minimizes the loss or damage after an adverse event.
Facilities should proactively apply common sense to prevent bad results or accidents. Many maintenance activities that may involve risk, such as mopping slippery floors in high traffic areas, can be scheduled during periods of resident inactivity. Additionally, a facility should design and implement a plant to avoid risk and minimize the results if a damaging incident occurs.
Sometimes a plan to prevent risk can create new risks. Technology is effective in facilities, but can create new problems if personnel relies too much on available technology and does not customize diagnosis and treatment for individual residents.
Although risk management benefits from available practice principles and guidelines, a facility’s risk management program must be designed specifically for each individual facility based upon the facility’s purpose, treatment mandates, size, age of construction, location, patient population, and other factors. National standards for delivery of elder care also help in formulating a facility’s risk management program.
Some major areas to address when establishing risk management are:
- Ensuring Safety - Creating safety protocols that include such things as informed consent for medical procedures and guidelines for medicine delivery
- Hiring a Professional Medical Staff - Hiring medical personnel properly credentialed and licensed with experience in elder care
- Improving Safety in High Risk Areas - Identifying high-risk areas in the facility and developing strategies to limit risk
- Documenting is Key - The patient’s record is the basis for responding to medical/legal challenges. Have a system for documentation of relevant information. Remember to keep a record of all conversations with both the senior and their family.
Strategies for managing risk in elder care should promote quality of life and build good relationships with patients and their families. When a resident comes to your facility, complete a comprehensive initial assessment, which will serve as the basis for planning care and making decisions. Include:
- Identification of a spokesperson for the patient’s family for streamlined and effective communication.
- Reconciliation of the patient’s medications across the continuum of care to avoid unwanted drug interactions.
- Use of the informed consent process to document that the patient and his/her family understand all treatments and procedures.
- Making the quality of delivered elder care a top priority avoids undesirable situations and unfortunate outcomes and limits a facility’s risk.
Making the quality of delivered elder care a top priority avoids undesirable situations and unfortunate outcomes and limits a facility’s risk. At Highland Risk, we are available to assist you, our agents, in providing the facilities you serve with insurance specific to their needs. Please contact us today for additional information about the programs we offer at one of our two offices in Chicago at 847-832-9100 or Phoenix at 847-832-9099 or visit us at www.highlandrisk.com.