Risk Management in Healthcare

In an effort to minimize potential losses, healthcare facilities hire healthcare risk management professionals to monitor and manage risks and liabilities. Risk managers work to ensure patient and staff safety, respond to claims of clinical malpractice, address patient complaints, and comply with federal and state regulations. While their primary responsibility is to protect the hospital’s interests, risk managers’ efforts contribute significantly to the quality of patient care.

Job Duties of a Healthcare Risk Manager

Risk managers coordinate the processes involved in managing general liability and risk exposures for a hospital or healthcare facility. They are usually responsible for the oversight and direction of an organization’s quality assurance programs, which involve medical staff peer reviews, patient care systems enhancements, quality improvement initiatives and regulatory compliance.

Among other duties, healthcare risk management professionals may be called on to:

  • Investigate patient complaints and medical malpractice claims
  • Review medical records for liability issues
  • Conduct risk-management training programs
  • Research and report on medical and legal topics
  • Examine financial and other records for instances of fraud or theft
  • Manage lawsuits and act as a liaison for liability claims

Skills Required for Effective Healthcare Risk Management

Employers prefer to hire candidates with extensive medical knowledge and risk management experience, and often promote RNs to this critical role. Risk managers must also be familiar with all state and federal compliance regulations and standards. Other qualifications needed for this job include:

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Proficiency in planning, coordinating and implementing patient and staff safety procedures
  • Good judgment and decision-making abilities
  • Strong interpersonal, organizational and customer service skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Interest in continuous learning and a commitment to staying informed on regulatory changes
  • Talent for leading and facilitating group and team meetings
  • Attention to detail and analytical skills
  • Comfort in handling challenging situations that may involve adverse outcomes
  • Ability to maintain a calm, professional demeanor under pressure

Education and Training

Employers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), when considering candidates for a healthcare risk manager position. Some prefer applicants to hold a graduate degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and demonstrate proven leadership skills. RNs seeking a promotion to risk manager can also benefit from legal training and seminars pertaining to healthcare risk management and regulatory compliance topics.

Risk Manager Salary Potential

According to national salary data on, certified healthcare risk managers earned between $54,780 and $82,587 per year as of October 2010. Those who are promoted into executive-level roles can earn even more. findings from the same period revealed that risk management directors in healthcare earned between $72,760 and $103,657.

Job Outlook

In the 2010-11 edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment of healthcare services managers to grow faster than the average for all occupations. As healthcare facilities strive to identify and mitigate liabilities and maintain regulatory compliance, demand for qualified risk managers will remain high.

Position Yourself for Success – Earn a BSN or MSN Online

RNs who aspire to risk management roles can enhance their qualifications by earning a BSN or MSN online from Jacksonville University (JU), which is repeatedly ranked one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report. With 24/7 access to lectures and course materials and a variety of interactive communication tools, JU’s online nursing degree programs are ideal for those who seek the flexibility and convenience of e-learning and the quality of a world-class, accredited university.

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