AUSTIN, Texas — Everyone is a risk manager, members of a keynote panel told attendees Tuesday during the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management's annual conference.
The keynote panel, which included executives ranging from risk officers to facilities directors to suppliers, came to the same conclusion despite their different vantage points: A coordinated, team-based effort is essential to ensure patient safety and help medical facilities avoid potential liability.
“It's all risk management,” said speaker and moderator Grace Crickette, senior vice president and chief risk and compliance officer of AAA's Northern California, Nevada and Utah region. “The checklist is the same” no matter the business, she said.
That includes working to understand the business, doing a gap analysis, forming an enterprise risk management group, measuring various aspects of the business, providing training and leveraging technology, she said.
Terry M. Scott, director of facilities and construction at Memorial Hermann Northwest and Southwest hospitals in Houston, said investigation of an electrocution found that the subcontractor four levels down from the main contractor did not have workers compensation coverage. That, he said, has prompted the hospitals to vet all contractors and subcontractors, and the requirement that each worker go through the hospitals' safety program before performing any work for the facilities.
Communication is key
“Communication is a huge solution to risk,” Brenda Radford, director of guest services at Duke University Hospital, told attendees at the Austin, Texas, conference.
In a multifaceted patient safety effort, the hospital has built internal teams and instituted staff education programs to promote patient safety. Patients also have been invited into the process and come up with some good ideas, Ms. Radford said. Aside from what she described as the “heart-head-heart sandwich” model when a mistake is made, the hospital system is moving to upgrade its software to better capture adverse events that do happen and is continuing various programs to avoid mistakes.
Grace Moffitt, vice president of corporate human resources at Greensboro, N.C.-based Cone Health, said that until recently, “our recruitment process was very broken.” However, the medical care system that includes six hospitals has converted its paper process to an electronic one; actively courts the best prospects, including using Facebook and Twitter for job postings; and thoroughly vets prospects to improve the medical care system's 90-day retention rate to 97%, she said.
Annette Pummel, chief operating officer of Minneapolis-based sterilization solution provider American Contract Systems, related how the organization ultimately decided to use safety syringes that cost significantly more than the previous syringes, but ultimately reduced overall costs because fewer employees were suffering accidental needle sticks.
“Crash the meeting with suppliers,” Ms. Pummel advised, to make sure the equipment and supplies purchased keep both employees and patients safe.
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