What is a Risk Manager? Whose Side Are They On?
Risk managers work in hospitals and other medical facilities. The goal of risk management is to do exactly what the title suggests—to manage the risk faced by the medical facility and its staff. Specifically, risk managers are responsible for handling issues such as unexpected public relations matters, personnel problems, operations issues, and also financial matters. Everything from daily, minor events through unexpected, catastrophic events may be handled through risk management. Though the details of a risk manager’s work may vary from place to place, the goal is to protect the medical facility.
Risk managers help the medical facility prevent or mitigate any financial losses. All medical facilities must comply with certain rules and laws, and they must also meet various quality control measures. Reducing the number of medical malpractice claims that are filed and maintaining a low rate of employee attrition are key goals for the risk manager, as these are both costly events for the medical facility. Medical malpractice verdicts may be millions of dollars, and training new employees repeatedly is a costly undertaking.
In some ways risk managers promote patient safety. By designing patient safety programs and encouraging doctors and nurses to adhere to safe medical practices, risk managers can help a hospital system reduce the number of medical errors. So, to some extent risk managers and are on the “side” of patients and patient safety. However, once a medical mistake has been made, and a patient has been seriously injured, things change dramatically. The risk manager’s role then shifts from patient safety advocate to patient adversary. The risk manager becomes part of a team whose goal is to avoid accountability for the patient’s injury and to deny the patient fair compensation. It would be really nice if this wasn’t true, but it is. Once something bad has happened, the risk manager goes into “protect-the-hospital’s-money” mode. The risk manager collects evidence – such as witness statements — that can then be shielded from patients and their attorneys. The risk manager also may meet with doctors and nurses to make sure that they don’t say anything to the patient that could be used against them in court. They may even coach the doctors and nurses on how to apologize to the patient without admitting any fault or saying anything else that might cause the patient to look for an attorney.
Even worse, the risk manager may meet with the patient and mislead the patient into believing that either there was no mistake or that the mistake didn’t cause the injury. The risk manager may appear friendly and cooperative. The risk manager may even offer a small sum of money to the patient. But make no mistake, the risk manager’s job – once malpractice has occurred – is to limit the hospital’s risk, which usually means to save the hospital’s money.
Now, are there risk managers who don’t like this aspect of their job? Absolutely. And some risk managers are actually instrumental in negotiating a fair settlement, once the patient has obtained an attorney and demonstrated an ability to succeed in court. But if the risk manager can stop a patient from hiring an attorney, he or she likely will try to do so. After all, the risk manager is paid by the hospital, not the patient.
In short, a risk manager is not on your side
For the above reasons, it is a good idea to discuss any negative outcomes with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. A medical malpractice attorney is able to quickly pinpoint whether a settlement offer from a risk manager is reasonable (it almost always is not). With the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney, an injured patient is able to maximize the amount of money he or she is able to recover under the law.
Our Ohio medical malpractice attorneys represent patients in all types of medical negligence claims
At The Eisen Law Firm, our Ohio medical negligence attorneys work hard to ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve. We do not back down from risk managers and insurance companies. We will take your claim all the way to trial and through the appeals process, if appropriate. To schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, call 216-687-0900 or contact us online today.