Quality Improvement: Risk Management

What is risk management?

Risk management consists of a process to:

  • identify actual risks and potential risks
  • analyze these risks in terms of financial loss and legal liability
  • develop risk control techniques and systems
  • implement those techniques and systems
  • monitor their effectiveness

A risk management program should include: (a) safety and security precautions; (b) infection control; (c) review of all incidents and accidents; (d) prevention strategies; and (e) education of both providers and consumers.

Example: A handbook of precautions, infection control, and prevention strategies should be available in every work setting for all SLPs and staff. Annual review of this handbook and revision, when necessary, should be conducted with all employees, and at the time of employment for new employees. These reviews should be documented.

Why do SLPs need to be concerned about risk management?

Risk management falls within the umbrella of QI. A QI program may incorporate principles of risk management, using structure, process, and outcome measures. Historically, the profession of speech-language pathology was believed to be relatively "risk free." However, due to our expanded scope of practice, the increased contact of members of our profession with persons with infectious diseases, and the demands of consumers for safe and infection-free environments, SLPs must address risk management. In addition, today's environment of heightened security requires that all health care workers engage in risk management activities to keep their patients and themselves safe.

A risk management program adopts a proactive stance to prevent harm and reduce financial loss and legal liability. Risk management is the responsibility of every SLP and audiologist regardless of work setting. A risk management program should be in place at your facility and may be part of a QI program.

Example: It is more costly to have an employee on sick leave or disability leave than it is to review safety precautions and preventative strategies.

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