Annex 4 - compilation of approaches

Risk assessment made easy

A risk assessment seeks to answer four simple, related questions: What can go wrong? How bad? How often? and Is there a need for action?

It is not usually possible to eliminate all risks within a system, but healthcare staff have a duty to protect patients as far as ‘reasonably practicable’. In practice, this means that there is an imperative to avoid any unnecessary risk. It is best to focus on the risks that really matter, such as those with the potential to cause harm.

This tool is intended to encourage greater use at practice level, and increased awareness and understanding of risk assessment at all levels. It comprises five simple steps:

  • identify the hazards
  • decide who might be harmed and how
  • evaluate the risks and decide on the precautions
  • record the findings and proposed actions
  • review the assessment.

It is applicable and easily adapted for use in all care settings. Frontline staff may use this tool to identify hazards and decide whether they are significant and whether appropriate and sufficient controls or contingencies are in place to ensure that the associated risks are properly controlled.

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