Risk Management Falls and Patient Safety in Nursing Facilities


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It is the objective of every business enterprise to make profits andmeet its expenditures. It is objective of a vast majority of thehealthcare agencies to maximize their profits, while minimizing thelosses. However, research has indicated that there has been numerousquestions and immense debate on the extent to which these agenciescan take risks in order to achieve these objectives. Risk managementis an approach that numerous health care agencies have adopted in aneffort to reduce the occurrence of losses in their institutions(Youngberg,2011).Risk management aims at applying both proactive and reactiveapproaches in dealing with issues related to risks. Healthinstitutions hire health risk managers to mitigate variousliabilities and risks within the health care facility.

The main roles played by risk managers involve the maintenance ofstaff and patient safety. Consequently, the risk managers are taskedwith the responsibility of negotiating the claims for medicalmalpractices by the health facility. In addition, the risk managersare responsible for handling the complaints lodged by patients withregard to the quality of services offered by the health care agency(Jablonowski,2009).It is also essential to note that risk management ensures that thevarious Federal and State Government regulations and policies areadhered to.

There are various topics related to health care risk management.Research has indicated patient safety is at the epicenter of riskmanagement. There has been numerous case relating to patient safety.This has led to a number of claims, which has resulted in health careagencies incurring huge losses in terms of compensation and legalcharges (Braz,2009).It is vital to note that the main objective of risk management inhealth care sector is to protect the interest of the agency. However,risk managers are also tasked with the responsibility of ensuringpatient and staff safety within the healthcare facility. As a result,risk management has been viewed as one of the main aspects throughwhich quality and safe health care services can be provided.

Risk management can either be proactive or reactive. In other words,risk management attempts to prevent any losses associated withpatient safety, as well dealing with the consequences, which mightarise as result patient safety issues. Proactively, risk managementtries to reduce the harm that might be caused to patients as a resultof malpractices (Youngberg,2011).Malpractices in the provision of healthcare leads to patient harm andsubsequent tort claims. Reactive risk management is tasked with theduty of negotiating the tort claims by patients, as well asprotecting the interests of the agency.

Risk management and quality improvement have been separatedepartments reporting to different managers for a long time. However,recent issues in safety management have forced the two departments tocome together and work as a team to improve patient safety. The twodepartments are continuously and tirelessly working together toensure that their organization delivers safe and high qualityservices to the patients. Risk management falls will jeopardize thequality and safety of the healthcare services provided to patients(Braz,2009).Although numerous healthcare agencies have risk management programs,it is evident that a vast majority of them do not know whether it isproactive or reactive. Research has indicated that proactive riskmanagement is the best approach and the widely used health careproviders. It ensures that quality services are offered and itprevents the occurrence of losses to the health care providers.

Scientific research over decades has indicated that patient safetyis directly linked to quality health care provision. Numerous expertsin the health care sector view quality health care provision as theoverarchingumbrella under which the patient safety resides (Jablonowski,2009). Inthis regard, it is evident that risk management, which is associatedwith high quality health care services, is also linked with patientsafety. Experts in the medical field have also defined patient safetyas the ultimate prevention of harm to patients. Quality health careensures that patients’ safety is guaranteed. Risk management playsa critical role in ensuring that patient safety is protected. Riskmanagement attempts to ensure that any errors in the provision ofhealth care services are eliminated. In addition, it also seeks toestablish the causes of losses with regard to patient safety andseeks to avoid any repetitive errors in future (Youngberg,2011).

In order toprovide quality health care services, risk management programs aredesigned to ensure that qualified professionals are only the peoplewho provide services to the patients. This ensures that there is noharm that is inflicted on the patients through malpractices orerrors. Risk management programs puts measures in place that avoidany preventable or accidental injuries to patients. It is crucial topoint that in organization where there are no risk managementprograms, incidences of injuries both client and staff are eminent(Braz, 2009).The health care sector is a unique and special sector in that itdeals with a critical aspect which is human life. A failure to assessthe prevalence of risks in a nursing facility can result indetrimental consequences. For instance, an error in the prescriptionof a dosage may result in harming or even the death of a patient. Asa result, this may have huge economic impacts on the nursing facilitydue to the legal fees and the compensation that the facility may becompelled to pay (Youngberg, 2011).

It is worthnoting that quality and safe health care will include correctdiagnosis, which automatically lead to the correct treatment. In thislight, it is evident that a failure to have proper risk managementprogram in place might lead to wrong diagnosis and therefore causeharm to the patient (Braz, 2009).There are various strategies that risk managers in health facilitieshave tried to use in an attempt to alienate any patient safetyissues. Such measures include the use of computerized physician orderentry, simulators, bar coding, and crew resource management. Thisresearch has clearly indicated that risk management is an integralpart of the health care sector.

Inconclusion, it is vital for every nursing facility to have aneffective and functional risk management system in place. This is acritical element in the health care sector since it ensures thatpatient safety, as well as quality services are offered. Theelimination of patient harm goes a long way in avoiding unnecessaryand costly court battles with patients claiming compensation for anyharm caused (Jablonowski, 2009).In instances where the patients are already inflicted with harm, itis the duty of the risk managers in the facility to negotiate withthe claimant over the harm caused. Notable is the fact that riskmanagement reduces both losses from injured patients, as well asincreases the profits accrued by the nursing facility.


Youngberg, B. J. (2011). Principles of risk management and patientsafety. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Braz, R., (2009). Monographs: Enterprise Risk Management. Journalof Healthcare Risk

Management. 25: 11-24.

Jablonowski, M. (2009). The Real Value of ERM. Risk ManagementMagazine. February: 33-37.