Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Professional & personal
Risk Management thoughts


THING ONE: The reports that

    Contractors began removing asbestos on May 8, and three weeks later tests revealed elevated levels of asbestos in the air that workers and students breathe every day. The most logical way asbestos could penetrate multiple levels of this building is if construction crews unknowingly disturbed or attempted to improperly remove the substance.

    Asbestos exposure is very dangerous and the chemical should be removed by highly skilled workers with the proper training to prevent it from putting students and the public at risk. Fortunately, there are strict laws when it comes to the removal of asbestos.

Bottom line: using inexperienced people can be dangerous to your health - and wallet.

THING TWO: The Washington Post's Christie Aschwanden warns Check your health records: You may be able to avoid trouble that a review of your personal medical records may turn up some less than accurate information. (Personal aside: I checked my records and found several errors.)

ADMITTEDLY, reviewing personal medical records would NOT seem to fall under any Risk Management heading, but incorrect medical records are very much a risk, both to your health - as detailed in the Washington Post article - and to your wallet.

In the case of Ms. Aschwanden of the WashPost, she "discovered" that she had multiple pregnancies which came as a surprise to the childless woman.

She also discovered that her primary care doctor, a/k/a GP (general practitioner) was reporting discussions that never occurred. Not exactly fraud. But neither was it honest.

The article notes that Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), you have a right to view and obtain a copy of your medical record, Rachel Seeger, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, said in an e-mailed statement. If you find inaccuracies, HIPAA gives you the right to have these errors corrected. The caveat is that patients may be charged a "reasonable" fee to copy and deliver paper records.

LIKEWISE ADMITTEDLY, a Risk management practitioner probably lacks direct input into contracting practices for the organization.

However, the Risk Management practitioner should have input on the organization's policies and procedures, and hiring qualified, licensed, and insured vendors most assuredly IS part of a Risk Management practitioner's function.

"Things" still happen, but at least the practitioner's organization can show it did due diligence when government inspectors and insurance claims people show up at the door.

As the Mlive article boldly notes: The truth is, skilled labor isn't cheap, and cheap labor isn't skilled.

Akin to the old Fram commercial, "You can pay me now (for an oil and filter change) or pay me later (for an engine overhaul or replacement), it may cost more initially to hire qualified workers to do the job right the first time than it costs to pay to repair damage done by unqualified workers. (A bit like hiring a Risk Management tyro when an experienced practitioner really is needed.)

One of the differences I perceive between "business continuity" and "enterprise risk management" is that in most cases, practitioners only have input to policies and procedures in the latter (risk management).

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