Risk Management System
Adoption of a risk management system is advised, as part of clinical governance, to identify and minimise risks within the dental practice. A risk management system includes conducting an assessment of the potential risks and having written policies and procedures in place that detail how dental teams intend to operate within all aspects of practice activity, including clinical and administrative areas.
It is not possible to identify everything that might go wrong in dental practice. However, it is possible to be aware of potential areas where problems might arise and ensure systems are in place, such as a complaints procedure (see Communication), good record-keeping (see Record-keeping) and practice policies, to cover as many eventualities as possible.
Staff training and good communication with both patients and team members are essential (see Communication). The management system must also include quality assurance to ensure that everyone is adhering to what the policies state. This involves the use of Quality Improvement Activities to support and improve practice.
Discuss with the dental team the risks that exist in your practice (e.g. at team meetings), and encourage all staff to raise any risks that they have identified.
Conduct a risk assessment (see Risk Assessment (Blank) May 2010 template ) as follows:
- identify risk areas (e.g. administrative, clinical, financial)
- decide who might be harmed and how
- evaluate the risks and decide on precautions (controls)
- record the findings and take appropriate action
- review your assessment and update as necessary
- share all findings or changes to be made with staff
Have in place written practice policies and procedures that detail how all aspects of practice activity are to be carried out to reduce the occurrence and/or severity of adverse events [e.g. Health and Safety, Radiation Protection, Communication with patients (e.g. complaints policy), Ethical Practice (e.g. data protection/confidentiality), Record-keeping, providing access to all (see Disability Equality), dealing with Medical Emergencies].
Ensure staff are aware of all practice policies and procedures and are kept up to date as circumstances change.
Conduct Quality Improvement Activity as part of your quality assurance to ensure all staff are doing what the policies state.
Review the practice policies and procedures regularly and update as required. Inform staff of any changes.
Sources of Information
- Lilley R and Lambden P. The Toolkit for Dental Risk Management,Radcliffe Medical Press (2002).