Healthcare Risk Management Proving Its Value

Article excerpt

Healthcare organizations following consistent delivery guidelines and risk management practices produced substantial reductions in the number of liability claims and their average cost, according to a 12-year study prepared by MMI Companies, Inc., an international healthcare services company based in Deerfield, Illinois.

According to the results, following recommended risk modification guidelines in three of the most costly areas of healthcare liability led to substantially lower losses per medical malpractice claim. The survey reported average losses of $2,834, compared to $72,767 for claims in which no guide, lines were followed. The report indicates that aggressive implementation of risk modification guidelines not only reduces the cost of claims but also enhances the quality and safety of patient care.

"The findings from this report reinforce our philosophy that following a comprehensive set of guidelines, or a rules-based approach to managing risk, can improve clinical practice, leading to better patient outcomes and a substantial reduction in costs associated with liability claims," says Pam Lockowitz, president of MMI Risk Management Resources, Inc., (and a member of Risk Management magazine's editorial advisory board).

"Our goal is to help clients take a more systematic approach to clinical practice in order to improve patient outcomes," Ms. Lockowitz says. "We help them focus on the total system of care in their organizations. By identifying potential exposures, organizations can modify those risks to improve patient safety and healthcare quality."

Looking at the specific areas of improvement featured in the report, MMI said the increased use of better monitoring techniques during surgery has reduced the frequency and severity of anesthesia-related claims. This decline was produced despite the growing shift of surgical procedures away from operating rooms, where providers are very familiar with safety procedures, toward ambulatory or outpatient facilities.

"We saw the risks associated with anesthesia moving along with the patients," says G. Eric Knox, M.D., MMI's medical director and director of the Perinatal Center at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. "Through education and sharing claims and practice data with our clients, we began to see improvements in the use of monitoring technology outside the operating room. …