Tip of the Week: Risk assessments: The catch-all for hazard analysis

Hospital Safety Insider, March 17, 2011

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The following excerpt is from the March issue of Briefings on Hospital Safety.

No matter the size of your facility, risk assessment drives your goals

“Do a risk assessment.” That’s the answer most frequently heard in response to questions regarding safety.

The risk assessment is a simple but effective tool to evaluate any number of risks stemming from worker protection, facility design requirements, or patient safety. But for whatever reason, the risk assessment elicits panic and fear among safety officers and facility directors who may not be familiar with the process, the documentation, or the analysis of risks.

“When they have some sort of situation or issue and I tell them they need to do a risk assessment, and the dread that comes over their face, you almost swear I was killing their first-born kid,” says Earl Williams, HSP-M, safety specialist at Advocate Health Care in Normal, IL. “And oftentimes they don’t seem to understand the difference between a risk assessment and a risk analysis.”

However, the risk assessment is evaluated in all areas of the hospitals during a Joint Commission survey.

Although the assessment itself is a strong, reliable tool, Williams says it is one area of healthcare that is weak in the sense that some facilities do not use it appropriately—if they use it at all.

But once you know the basics of a risk assessment, the rest follows easily, and the same procedure can be repeated with varying considerations. This allows you to determine the severity of risks present in every part of your facility and simultaneously adhere to the standards that apply to your facility while developing a workable plan of action.

Visit Briefings on Hospital Safety to read more in risk assessments.

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