Letter from the Chair

Helping is the Heart of Risk Management

HeidiHarrisonpostSM

Having been in healthcare my entire professional life, I am unsure of how other industries truly operate. I often wonder if others experience the same dynamics that we experience in the healthcare workplace environment. My husband is self-employed and tells me everyone is his boss. In some ways he is right, but in other ways he does not understand what it is like to work for an organization. One of the things I really appreciate about healthcare is that, by and large, people seek out this profession because they want to help others. Aside from this being a noble endeavor, most healthcare providers, during their education, learn and develop an appreciation for human behavior.

Another unique feature of this profession is that we are exposed to some of the happiest and also some of the saddest events in patients’ lives. We witness the birth of newborns and also the departure of the elderly or terminally ill as well as everything in between. When sentinel events occur, the circumstances can be very challenging for providers. In such circumstances there are a lot of unknowns. This presents an opportunity for risk managers to support those providers. First they want to know how the patient is doing. Second they want to know what will happen to them – will they lose their jobs or get put on probation? What I find most meaningful for downtrodden providers is to assure them that what happened was not intentional and probably stemmed from a system problem. I try to explain our review process and let them know that we practice a Just Culture rather than a blame culture, and our biggest challenge is preventing an event from recurring. I try to put myself in their shoes and provide support.

I entered healthcare to help people. I no longer help at the bedside on a daily basis but rather help by appreciating and supporting those providers that are closest to the patients.  For after all, the care of patients is the true business of healthcare.

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