Most people think of Risk Management in terms of finance, insurance and business. In healthcare, Risk Management seeks out errors with the potential to cause human harm. Risk Management consists of identifying, evaluating, and controlling the risk of these potential errors through a variety of quality control measures that become your medical practices’ Quality Control Plan. Risk Management is defined in ISO 14971 as the “systematic application of management policies, procedures, and practices to the tasks of analyzing, evaluating, controlling and monitoring risk.”1
For some healthcare professionals this is a well-known and commonly used process; however for others this may
be an area where knowledge is limited. The more you know about the practices in your facility, the more you can ensure they are compliant with all applicable regulations. However, you are not expected to do it alone. The role of Risk Management professionals in Healthcare is mainly one of monitoring to ensure compliance,
but should also include education.
Education is the best way to ensure compliance, and reduce potential sources of error. Maya Angelou often quoted “when you know better, do better.”2 Personnel who write, follow, monitor, and enforce the policies and procedures in your facility are not only those who are involved in direct patient interactions but also those involved in the collection, storage, and transport of patient specimens to those who process claims, enter data and update medical records. These are the key people to engage in Risk Management activities. There must be a clear and open dialogue regarding not only who does what but why they are doing it that way. By taking the steps necessary to ensure that all parts of your facility or practice are running smoothly, you can help ensure patient safety and excellence in this critical component of patient care.
What areas of challenge have you faced in terms of Risk Management monitoring, enforcement or compliance?
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1. International Standards Organization. Medical devices – Application of risk management to medical devices. ISO 14971. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization; 2007