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Risk management refers to the process of identifying, evaluating and prioritizing various risks that an organization is likely to face. It also involves proper coordination and economical use of organizational resources to reduce and control or lessen the probability of occurrence of a risk factor as well as to reduce the negative impacts or effects of such occurrences on the organization. Risk management entails four major techniques or methods namely risk assumption, risk retention, risk transfer and risk avoidance. An organization may use a combination of these techniques to manage the risks that it is faced with.
A risk is any uncertainty or unforeseen event in the internal and external environments of an organization that is likely to cause a negative effect or unfavorable impact on the organization. Risks can also be specific for particular organizations (Segal, 2011), for instance, accidents among employees and fraudulent conducts of workers are organization-specific. An event is classified as a risk if its root-cause is unknown and has unpredictable occurrence and effects that are inauspicious to the organization.
This essay describes a risk issue that was faced by our organization. It also describes the steps that were taken by the organization to address the risk issue. This essay also provides a comparison of findings of an individual research that I conducted about the risk issue with the risk management process that was adopted by the organization. A detailed description of the path to remedy the risk issue by the organization is also provided. Moreover, this essay identifies various sources that provide valid and practical methods that have been adopted by different organizations to remedy the same risk problem.
Discussion of the Risk Management Issue
The risk management issue that was faced by our organization is a loss of life of one of the nurses in the hospital. The nurse was walking along a pavement from the main administration block to the wards. She was heading to attend to the patients. The nurse was accidentally hit by a speeding delivery van that was ferrying drugs and other hospital equipments to the wards. The nurse sustained serious injuries on various parts of her body especially in the legs and arms. According to one of her colleagues who witnessed the occurrence of the accident, the nurse was knocked down by the delivery van; she felt down and fainted before she was rushed to the casualty unit for first aid treatments. An investigation of the accidents by the security officer and transport manager revealed that the accident incurred unintentionally. Neither the nurse nor the driver of the delivery van was to blame for the accident.
Steps that were taken by the Hospital to Address the Risk Issue
The first step that was taken by the hospital after the occurrence of the accident was to identify the root-causes of personal accidents that may lead to injury or death of persons within the hospital. This involved identifying the circumstances that facilitate the occurrence of accidents among nurses, patients and visitors within the hospital, for example, it was revealed that the accident that led to the injury of the nurse occurred at an area where there were no safety signs and warning symbols to caution people walking along the pavements against moving vehicles. In addition, the medical superintendent and chief transport officer brainstormed with employees of the hospital to formulate ways in which similar accidents that involve pedestrians being hit by moving vehicles within the hospital would be prevented and controlled in the future.
Secondly, the organization also analyzed and assessed the state of the workplace in the hospital in order to evaluate and review the possibility of occurrence of other types of accidents such as fire outbreaks, slipping and falling of patients and visitors while walking within the hospital buildings due to slippery floors, falling of patients from beds in wards because of use of old and faulty beds and injuries in medical laboratories within the hospital. This involved assessing and measuring the vulnerability and exposure of patients, visitors, pedestrians and hospital workers to accidents within the hopital. For example, a detailed analysis of the working conditions in medical laboratories was conducted to determine the possibility of laboratory technicians getting hurt by the equipments and chemicals they use while conducting laboratory tests. The analysis also involved assessing the frequency and severity of risk of healthcare workers, patients and visitors being involved in any form of accident within the hospital. In addition, the analysis involved conducting qualitative research studies on the safety of persons within the hospital in order to establish the possible losses such as death of physicians, nurses or patients and law suits that are likely to be incurred when accidents happen in the hospital. The hospital also formulated various risk management techniques such as formulation of appropriate risk control policies and procedures and development of risk management systems that would be used to manage prudently the risk of accidents within the organization. For example, it was decided that all vehicles should be driven at a speed of five kilometers per hour (5km/hr) within the hospital compound and that all vehicles should be parked at designated areas only. For my part, I would assert that the occurrence of the accident prompted the hospital management to critically review and analyze chances of accidents happening within the organization.
Thirdly, a range of countermeasures that would be used to rectify situations or working conditions that may increase the exposure of people to risk of accidents within the hospital were also devised for implementation, for example, all buildings within the hospital that have slippery floors must have warnings sign cautioning people about the slippery of the floor. It was also agreed that all building especially the medical laboratories that have higher chances of fire outbreaks must have functional handheld and horse-pipe fire extinguishers. All building must also have signs directing people on the routes for fire exits.
It was also revealed that most workers in the hospital do not have insurance against accidents at the workplace. Therefore, the medical superintendent and other senior officers in the hospital introduced an employment policy requiring all causal workers, physicians, nurses and laboratory technicians among others to obtain medical insurance against accidents at the workplace. The top management of the hospital agreed that certain risk such as fire outbreaks and injury of laboratory technicians within the medical laboratories that could not be effectively avoided or managed by the hospital would be transferred to insurance companies. This action was based on the riskiness of the working conditions of the laboratory technicians. Therefore, it would be prudent to transfer certain risks to insurance companies. The hospital also agreed to cater for a specified percentage of the insurance premiums to be paid by the healthcare workers depending on the riskiness of the duty station. This decision was made unanimously during a meeting on safety of workers between senior management and representatives of the health workers’ union.
In addition, the hospital also embarked on conducting trainings on occupational safety in order to educate the health workers on how to prevent accidents at the workplace thus ensuring high levels of safety. For example, all health workers were educated on how to respond to fire outbreaks by avoiding panic, using the right fire exits and gathering at designated fire assembly points. Drivers of delivery vans, ambulances and other automobiles within the hospital were also cautioned to be careful when approaching road-bends or areas with higher numbers of pedestrians. It was also asserted that all health workers are responsible for ensuring their own safety and the safety of their colleagues, patients and visitors within the hospital.
Last but not least, the hospital conducted a comprehensive review, evaluation and monitoring of the progress of the risk response strategies and methods that were formulated and implemented by the company to eliminate, reduce and control personal accidents among patients, visitors and health workers within the hospital. For instance, the effectiveness of employee trainings on accident prevention and control and usefulness of erecting sign posts and warning symbols like “Slippery Floor” at designated areeas were evaluated and determined.
Determination of a Path to Remedy the Problem
The path to remedy the problem was determined by assessing the prevailing condition in the hospital. In order to find a long-lasting and suitable remedy to accidents involving health workers and patients in the hospital, the organization conducted a comprehensive analysis of the working conditions, safety and health of workers in the hospital. The main goal of the analysis was to identify the possible root-causes of accidents in the organization and to develop appropriate countermeasures that would help in preventing and reducing accidents in the company. A team of occupational safety and healthcare professionals were deployed to analysis how the safety of workers at the workplace could be improved. In order to prevent the occurrence of more accidents within the hospital in the future, the team of occupational safety professionals suggested that additional safety signs and symbols that are highly conspicuous and noticeable should be placed at various areas within the hospital’s compound that were identified as accident hotspots. The hospital also signed a contract with a major medical insurance company to provide insurance services to the healthcare workers in order to ensure that employees who might get involved in accidents in the future get adequate compensations. In my opinion, this is an act of risk transfer because the hospital shifted the risk of incurring losses as a result of accidents among healthcare workers in the organization to the insurance company.
Sources that Identify Valid Methods Adopted by Organizations to Address Similar Risks
Examples of credible sources that identify valid and practical methods that have been adopted by other healthcare institutions to address risk of accidents include Work Injuries and Work Injury Rates in Hospitals by the United States, Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care and Patient Safety by Carayon and Wiley InterScience, Nursing in Today’s World: Trends, Issues & Management by Ellis and Harley and “Journey to No Preventable Risk: The Baylor Health Care System Patient Safety Experience” by Kennerly et al.
In the book Work Injuries and Work Injury Rates in Hospitals the United States Department of Labor (2008) reviews various form of accidents and injuries that are sustained by healthcare workers in hospitals and also estimates their annual rates. The book provides a suitable overview of risk of accidents within the healthcare system. Carayon and Wiley InterScience (2012) also provide a detailed review of the various challenges faced by healthcare institutions as well as the workers. The issue of accidents among workers and patients within hospitals is also comprehensively discussed. Ellis and Harley (2012) also discuss the risk of accidents involving nurses as a major current issue that has adverse effects of the performance of nurses and delivery of healthcare services. The authors also suggest appropriate techniques that can be used to manage accidents within hospitals.
Lastly, Kennerly et al. (2011) also suggest risk management techniques that can be deployed by healthcare institutions to ensure higher levels of safety for patients and workers within the institutions. In my opinion, the risk prevention approaches presented by Kennerly et al. in the article provides a suitable basis for managing occupational accidents within hospitals.
Comparison of My Research with the Process Developed by the Hospital to Manage Accidents
In my opinion, I would assert that the process to remedy the risk management issue that occurred in the organization conforms to risk management techniques proposed by different researchers, for instance, most researchers agree that the first step to risk management is to identify and assess of the risk situation. The hospital achieved this approach by first conducting a detailed analysis of the prevailing situation in the organization to identify the factors that led to the injury of the nurse. Similarly, the hospital formulated appropriate remedies to personal accidents in order to prevent further occurrences of accidents in the future.