School of Health and Social Care

Assessment of risks involves a series of activities which include identification, evaluation, estimation as well as establishing the levels of risks that are acceptable in certain organization or professional. The purpose of risk assessment in health and care planning is to ensure safety of the staff in the work place as well as their subjects so as to avoid negative publicity and liabilities. According to a study by American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM), 2007, the major roles of risk managers are to identify and evaluate risks, prevent losses, educate and ensure patient safety. Among the risk agents in this field include the healthcare right activists, distracted healthcare workers, prescription fraudster, financial fraudsters, competitor, legal adversary, thieves among others. Information obtained from risk assessment is critical to the policy makers in establishing policies and procedures. To start with, it gives facts about the status of events and hence aid in assessing possible form of legal requirement violations.

A risky environment is not only shunned by the clients, but also lacks the bargaining power to attract efficient and effective staff for service delivery. As such, risk assessments enables comparison of stakeholders’ expectation and the reality on the ground and hence provide a framework for addressing issues that may be viewed as risky from different stakeholder’s perspective. Staff for instance, are exposed to such risks as biological risks e.g. needle stick injury infections, chemical risks, ergonomic risk e.g. patient handling, physical risks e.g. ionizing radiation, psychosocial risk e.g. violence among others. Information regarding these risk aid in developing policies on such matters as infrastructural requirements, training, qualifications, compensations and supervision requirements among others. Legal framework exists to regulate the industry and therefore, policies and procedure developed should not violate the legal standards.

Among the health and safety policy on health and social care practice in existence is confidentiality of patient information. Patient information should only be accessed or shared if a staff needs to work on it. Reason for collection of personal information should be communicated to the patients and assurance of confidentiality is provided. To facilitate this, organizations have come up with systems that regulate access of information such as passwords and identification numbers. Failure to maintain confidentiality and privacy requirement could have devastating consequences to the employees as well as the organization at large. A breach in patient’s confidentiality is mainly the disclosure of patients’ information to third party without the consent of the patient by the physician. There are legal basis upon which the breach can be extended than the ethical guidelines.

Generally, there are consequences of breaching patients’ confidentiality. Among the main consequences is the loss of trust in the patient for the physician which may also scare away the patient from access to healthcare in the near future which is perhaps detrimental to their health. Besides that, the debate on healthcare legislation offences has been replaced by prosecution as the major solutions as to which the health and safety (HSE) authorities use to hold to account the healthcare and safety breach offence takers. Health and safety laws provide few options for court sentencing but rather imposition of direct fines. However, through the broader system of the justice system, there are often many ways upon which the breaching may take. These ensures among other things: there are incentives of compliance with the law; enhanced role for the victims as well as ensuring the victims have learnt a lesson. Alternative penalties are common in most health systems such as Europe and Australia.

Due to the existence of a varied perspective of the violation of the rights of the patients, there are a number of dilemmas that exist in the medical fraternity. Essentially, the pre-existing legislations have not adequately resolved the anomalies existing in the medical practices. As results, medical sector should devise mechanisms that would help resolve the incidences of breach. Such mechanisms includes the adoption of alternative penalties as mentioned earlier which would further spearhead health ethics while at the same time confining itself to the existing legislations besides enhancing the workplace discipline amidst the diversity therein.