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Touching nearly every corner of a healthcare enterprise, risk managers strengthen organizational operations, both proactively – by identifying, preventing and mitigating loss – and reactively – through real-time damage control. Here, a top healthcare risk executive discusses trending concerns and emerging risks in hospitals.

Q&A with:

Caroline Clouser, Executive Vice President, Chubb Healthcare Industry Practice Leader

Caroline Clouser, EVP, Chubb Healthcare

Which hospital risk keeps you up most at night?

A missed or delayed diagnosis related to an infection is certainly one of the more serious risks. These types of incidents can result in catastrophic injuries to patients, which can include loss of limbs—and that can cost millions to resolve.

Multimillion-dollar awards and settlements have been recorded related to these cases, so providers must ensure infection control and infection prevention are top priorities to reduce their liability exposures.

What are the risks you immediately look for when you step into a medical facility?

Security is certainly top of mind. Hospitals may be places of healing, but they also have become the scene of an increasing number of violent incidents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), incidents of serious workplace violence are four times more common in health care than in private industry.

Medical professionals are often the targets of attacks, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior.

Hospitals and healthcare organizations should enact a zero-tolerance policy prohibiting any form of violence, whether physical, verbal, or psychological. It is critical they have safety measures place to prevent violence and improve safety for all.

“Patients should not be afraid to raise their hand and ask questions, especially before agreeing to a specific treatment or procedure.”

Can patients do anything to ensure they have a safe hospital-going experience?

The most important way a patient can contribute to their safety during a hospitalization is to be their own healthcare advocate. This means taking part in every decision about their healthcare.

Patients should not be afraid to raise their hand and ask questions, especially before agreeing to a specific treatment or procedure. Questions like: Can you please explain what my treatment options are and tell me about the risks and benefits of each?

This way they fully understand their options and can make a confident, informed decision about their treatment plan.

Additional information

Learn more about mediating risk in the operating room: Patient Safety in the OR: Effective Risk Management Strategies


This content originally appeared in The Atlantic, Re:think Original
Photography: Yoshihiro Makino