Healthcare Risks

The healthcare industry as with other industries has its own fair share of risks. Healthcare Risks are not to be ignored but rather should be studied so they can be avoided or resolved in record time. There are different things that can cause Healthcare Risks or pose as risks or problems to healthcare organizations. Proper management of healthcare risks is the best defense a healthcare organization has when providing care and treatment to patients. This means, always following proper protocol, not cutting corners, and making sure the company culture is one that emphasizes proper care and concern for patients.

 

Below we discuss some of the Healthcare Risks which pose as serious problems to healthcare organizations and patients either directly or indirectly

  1. Violent Incidents Healthcare Risks

 Healthcare RisksA hospital is a place where violence is more likely to occur – especially in the emergency room. People are in their most vulnerable state, in pain, upset, feeling loss or pain, mentally unstable, in fugue states and just being people. It can be quite risky for doctors and nurses who could be on the receiving end of acts of violence both verbal and physical, intimidation. These violent incidents not only put hospital staff at risk but also puts patients at risk of getting injured from disruptive behavior and are also at risk of not receiving the proper care because of a disruption in service due to a violent act or occurrence. Family members of patients present in the hospital are also at risk of being recipients of violent attacks and assault. Healthcare organizations should take steps to prevent these incidents from occurring such as having a zero tolerance policy to acts of violence, having proper security always available to diffuse any situation before it escalates, and having strict disciplinary actions for anyone who breaks the rules or anyone who acts not in the ways expected by public decorum.

  1. Financial Healthcare Risks

In a healthcare organization, there are financial costs that come with running the organization from day to day and from fiscal year to fiscal year. The main financial risks come when there is a financial issue that is unplanned for. An example of that is when a malpractice claim or lawsuit is filed against a healthcare organization. When such a claim is filed, it means the healthcare organization has to dole out a huge sum of money to pay if they lose. And even if healthcare organizations don’t lose, they still have to pay the legal fees and cost that come with defending against the malpractice claim. Sometimes these costs are as much as tens of thousands of dollars and sometimes even up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Even if the healthcare organization wins the malpractice lawsuit and is also lucky enough to be reimbursed their legal fees, it still negatively affects them because of the all the time and man-hours spent dealing with the issue, possibly negative publicity that would come with having such a lawsuit filed which could lead to loss of goodwill and the healthcare organization also has to deal with losing operating capital in order to divert those funds to deal with the malpractice lawsuit. And if they lose the lawsuit, the cost can become extremely high and even runs the risk of sending them out of business. On the more analytical side, it is also a good idea to purchase a malpractice insurance policy to protect against events like this when they occur.

  1. Alarm Fatigue

Healthcare Risks

A hospital is one that is packed full of technological and medical devices such as heart monitors, ventilator alarms, etc. For a doctor or nurse who has been in a ward for years and usually spends long days in the hospital, they might be subject to suffering from alarm fatigue. Alarm fatigue occurs when a doctor or nurse constantly hears beeps and chirps of these medical devices every day that they soon become numb to them. Thus, when an alarm goes off that's supposed to draw attention to a serious medical problem of a patient, it can go ignored or the response can be slow or nonchalant thus leading to the patients suffering damages to their health and sometimes even death of a patient can occur. The Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event database compiles reports of situations where alarm fatigue has lead to patient death, permanent injury, and extended stay in the hospital.  For a healthcare organization intending to avoid risks caused by alarm fatigue, they need to put a measure in place to ensure that it does not occur and that doctors and nurses are trained to always be on alert and not ignore important warning signs.

  1. Cyber Attack Healthcare Risks

Healthcare Risks

The threat of the possible loss of patient data is a real risk that healthcare organizations have to deal with. Cyber hacks and data breaches are a major issue facing the healthcare industry today. A healthcare organization usually stores its data in an Electronic Health Records system and this system can be accessed by hospital employees, partner healthcare organizations and sometimes by patients (through patient portals).

Hospitals must protect these data at all cost because it contains sensitive information about patients such as their health condition, their social security numbers, health insurance information, and even payment information such as bank card numbers and password. A data breach could lead to patient information getting into the wrong hands and leading to server issues like identity theft. When this happens it poses a high risk for the healthcare organization because they will have to deal with lawsuits from patients and even the government.

To prevent running into the risk of a data breach, healthcare organizations should work closely with their data storage provider to assess this exposure and develop effective risk management strategies and ensure the proper coverage is in place.