Operating a medical facility is closely linked to substantial risk to an organization, medical practitioners, and patients. It is possible to apply particular risk management principles to reduce or eliminate potential causes of adverse effects.
Evidence-Based Risk Management Strategies
The risk to be analyzed from the perspective of its management, reduction, and prevention, is patient identification (ID) issues. The problem is that frequently medical facilities deliver care to multiple individuals with similar identification data, such as the same first and last names, similar birthdates, and other types of information required to know what patient requires particular treatment (McGowan et al., 2021). Such risk can be ranked as very harmful, with a moderate likelihood of occurrence. There is a need for interventions to prevent the issue by reducing the probability of ID errors.
ID error is a frequent problem, neglecting which may lead to several adverse consequences detailed further. Firstly, nurses are vulnerable to a set of inconveniences raised by the need to distinguish patients each time an action is required or requested. It results in a significant waste of time, which may be crucial in some situations, for instance, when there is a shortage of nurses while the number of patients is high (McGowan et al., 2021). Difficulty in managing patients complicated with ID errors may result in negative healthcare outcomes and other problems leading to various adverse consequences.
Secondly, nurses may experience additional work-related stress because of difficulty distinguishing patients. Shifts of nurses may change, and there is a significant chance that each shift, a new nurse would have to find what patient should receive a particular treatment. This tendency leads to an increase in the stress level, which is deteriorative for staff overall, and may significantly increase the probability of medical errors occurring. In the worst-case scenario, medical practitioners may confuse medications, which can potentially endanger a patient’s health and well-being and even have fatal consequences. With respect to the risks to the organization, they are closely linked to financial expenses, quality assurance policies regulating medical practitioners’ work, and the reputation of the clinic. The harm caused to patients results in the deterioration of the mentioned aspects. Therefore, in case it is chosen not to address the issue and not reduce risks, potential consequences may be severe.
With respect to risk management strategies and techniques that organizations may employ to detect the issue and gather data to select reduction and elimination measures in the future, there are several recommended ID issue strategies. Incident reports are primary resources for risk detection due to containing explicit information about the issue that occurred. It may be advised to monitor documentation regularly to discover if an established system does not effectively address the ID issue in a timely manner.
Alternatively, brainstorming can be utilized to identify risks, especially ones which have already occurred and require further consideration. Experienced nurses, management of a medical facility, and other practitioners involved should be gathered to discuss the weak points of the existing system, which can potentially lead to ID errors. Another strategy to use is SWOT analysis, which can also be done due to the collaborative efforts of persons familiar with risk management systems or who frequently face ID issues in their practice (Janous, 2021). Affinity diagrams can be utilized to complement the above-described methods of risk identification. They would help structure thoughts and ideas conceived during brainstorming and would be a basis for further deciding on a particular risk management strategy.
Concerning risk management best practices that can assist a healthcare organization in the elimination or reduction of ID errors, it is possible to propose a constructive strategy and outline several risk management techniques. As such methods as incident report review, brainstorming, SWOT analysis, and affinity diagrams are suggested, the drill-down technique can be useful for an in-depth examination of what causes the risks (Janous, 2021). A granular view within the same dataset can assist in discovering measures that can be taken to address the issue. It is also helpful for determining the most significant difficulties and ranking them, if necessary, to divide a complex problem into smaller sections. As a complementary best practice, stakeholders may be contacted to learn their vision regarding the issue. It can reveal alternative perspectives toward the point and potentially establish resources that can be allocated to address the problem.
Concerning the global risk management strategy that is to be implemented, it is a risk reduction one. The rationale is that it is not possible to eliminate the presence of patients with identical identification data. Thus, it is only possible to reduce the possibility of ID errors occurring by risk management techniques in the best-case scenario. I would take the following steps to reduce the selected risk. Review the data obtained by means of risk identification, and consult stakeholders. Then, I would search for practices of other medical facilities or credible peer-reviewed sources to find what are the methods to manage ID errors overall (Janous, 2021). For instance, bedside barcode scanning is one of the major techniques to reduce the chances of mixing patients’ treatment plans and medications (International Hospital Federation, 2018). Such a strategy would help distinguish the correct patient correctly and in a timely manner.
Importance of a Risk Management Program
It is possible to state that a comprehensive risk management program, like the one described above, is of particular importance for any healthcare organization. The rationale for this claim is that the cost of adverse events occurrence is high. Some risks even carry fatal consequences if they are not properly managed and eliminated or reduced. On the contrary, well-planned risk management programs are beneficial for patients and medical facilities overall.
International Hospital Federation. (2018). Global identifiers for enhancing efficiency and patient safety. GS1 Global Office Press.
Janous, B. (2021). The importance of risk management in healthcare and how it applies to your company. Discovery Health. Web.
McGowan, J., Wojahn, A., & Nicolini, J. R. (2021). Risk Management Event Evaluation and Responsibilities. StatPearls. Web.