Risk management at hospitals

A risk is an undesirable future event. The impact of the event and wether it will occur is uncertain. Risk management includes

  • Identifying potential risks and prioritizing them for action. This means sorting out the risks that are worthy of up-front action on reduction, contingencies and/or monitoring from those that you will ‘manage on the fly.
  • Risk reduction: Acting to reduce the probability of targeted risks occurring and/or the impact, should they happen.
  • Contingency planning:  Where you cannot reduce risks to ‘manage on the fly’ status, you may want to prepare people, equipment, actions and processes to ‘put on the shelf’ in case the risk occurs.

A way of prioritizing risk for action is to calculate the exposure. This is the potential loss should the undesired event occur. Exposure together with calculation of risk gives means for prioritizing countermeasures to minimize potential losses.

An interesting case study is hospitals. A potential risk is maltreatment of a patient. This will cause loss of reputation, risk of civil lawsuit and in serious cases risk of criminal charge.

An interesting case study is the death of Benjamin Lie at Ringerik Sykehus after a knee operation.

Clearly the hospital has lost some reputation but this has no consequences on a public not commercial hospital. Even minor mishaps will cause loss of reputation and be subject to Risk Management at a private hospital. At a public hospital lost reputation has no consequences. Lost reputation might even be an advantage to a public hospital. To the extent that people might evade the hospitals less patients means less work and costs. Minor risks will therefore not be countered as part of Risk Management at a public hospital.

The hospital got a fine. But since the hospital is public this also has no consequences. The transactions are finein -fineout = 0. Generally fine’s and compensations has no consequneces for public hospitals as nobody responsible for running the hospital will feel the economic consequences.

Finally there is the question of criminal charges against employers and leaders at the hospital. Such cases can only end in verdicts in courts in cases of grave negligence. This will be the same in private and public hospitals.

To summarize:

Increasing exposure ->

Reputation -> Civil law suit -> Criminal law suit

In conclusion: In private hospitals Risk Management will counter much smaller risks than in public hospitals.

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Filed under: on November 16, 2010 at 10:19 pm Comments Off

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