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Why Risk Management is Important

Written by Melissa Debacker, MSN, RN, CPHQ, HACP on in Blog

Healthcare Risk Management is a proactive and responsive profession that works to deliver safe and trusted healthcare by saving lives, preventing errors and conserving financial resources.

During this week, LVMC is pleased to join the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) in sharing some key messages about Risk Managers, their work and our efforts to deliver safe and trusted healthcare.

Healthcare Risk Management is a proactive and responsive profession that works to deliver safe and trusted healthcare by saving lives, preventing errors and conserving financial resources.

During this week, LVMC is pleased to join the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) in sharing some key messages about Risk Managers, their work and our efforts to deliver safe and trusted healthcare.

Risk managers work in close collaboration with Quality Assurance staff toward a shared goal of achieving and sustaining quality patient care. The overall goal of Risk Management is to reduce or prevent any type of risk to the healthcare facility.  That doesn’t just mean just the organization itself, but most importantly the patients, staff, medical professionals, and visitors.

Risk managers work to identify risks that could lead to serious, preventable safety events such as falls or medication errors and work toward preventing these events from happening by using best practices that are known in healthcare to reduce risk.

For example, it has been shown through research that early identification of fall risk and implementation of preventative measures is critical to reducing or eliminating falls in hospitals. Those measures can be specific wristbands identifying patients, or bright yellow socks that quickly and clearly show nursing staff patients who have a high risk for falls.

The implementation of bar code scanning for medications is also a best practice in healthcare and is known to reduce the risk of medication errors. LVMC has implemented both of these best practices and others to keep our patients safe.

Risk managers play an active role in the organization’s clinical, risk financing, regulatory and business issues. The Risk Manager works diligently to protect the patient and the organization’s reputation.

In a crisis, risk managers are the go-to professional.  They communicate with patients’ families; interact with physicians and clinical staff; educate medical staff, board members, middle management and senior leadership and help put processes in place to reduce the risk of adverse events.

At Lompoc Valley Medical Center, we are absolutely committed to quality patient care. We actively participate in patient safety initiatives and work collaboratively on initiatives with other California hospitals related to patient safety and risk management.

For example, in the past year, all departments at LVMC’s acute hospital were trained to the Team STEPPS (Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety) model.

With a focus on the importance of communication and teamwork, department managers and staff continue to utilize the Team STEPPS tools to assist us in delivering on our commitment to quality patient care.

For example, in our surgical services department, team “huddles” are used to quickly communicate department plans and to review the flow of surgical cases scheduled for the day. The department also uses “debriefs” after cases with the surgical teams to learn what went well and where can we make improvements.

Additionally, several departments at LVMC have participated in the “Quest for Zero” initiatives in California. These are rigorous programs demanding staff, physician, and management participation.

They have been successful in implementing best practices to help keep our patients safe. Our Perioperative Services Department was honored in 2016 by BETA Healthcare Group’s Quest for Zero for supporting excellence in the operating room and our Labor, Delivery, Postpartum and Recovery Department was awarded Tier 2 status for supporting excellence in perinatal care.

These awards, and all the risk management efforts at the hospital show how LVMC is continually raising the bar for quality patient care.

For more information about Healthcare Risk Management: www.ashrm.org

 

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Author: Melissa Debacker, MSN, RN, CPHQ, HACP, Chief Quality Assurance Officer

Melissa DeBacker has been a registered nurse for more than 30 years and has worked at LVMC for 25 years. She became Director of Quality/Risk Management/Infection Prevention in April 2013 and was promoted to Chief of the department in 2018. A Lompoc native, she began her career in healthcare as a Certified Nursing Assistant in 1981.

Learn more about Melissa