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Hazards in the Home: The Hidden Risks You May Not Have Considered

If your business provides services of any kind to patients’ homes, you’re in a unique position when it comes to risk. Both General Liability risks (incidents that happen on the premises of the patient’s home) and Professional Liability risks (incidents that result in patient injury usually due to caregiver error) need to be top of mind for all your employees.

Whether your employees are delivering equipment, transporting a patient, providing skilled or non-skilled home care, or even providing treatments such as physical or occupational therapy in the patient’s home, there are hidden risks you may not have considered, that can sometimes have tragic results.

Share these possible scenarios with your employees as a reminder of these hidden risks, and the steps they can take to reduce the chances of an accident.

Risk: Home security

Possible scenario: Your employee leaves a patient’s home garage door open after a delivery, which results in a theft later that day.

Key takeaway: Check and double check doors and locks when going to and from a patient’s home.

Risk: Fire safety

Possible scenario: Your employee knocks over a burning candle, causing a fire in the home.

Key takeaway: Focus on the task at hand and avoid multitasking while providing patient care. Take extra precaution with candles, heaters, fireplaces and kitchen appliances such as ovens and grills, to reduce the risk of fire.

Risk: Safety with appliances 

Possible scenario: An oven element is left on after your employee cooks a meal for a patient. The patient accentually touches the element, causing severe burns to their hand.

Key takeaway: Do not leave appliances or patients unattended. Double check to ensure all appliances are turned off before leaving the patient’s home.

Risk: Falls

Possible scenario: Your employee forgets to secure the safety rail on a patient’s bed before leaving the room, resulting in the patient falling to the floor.

Key takeaway: Always double check that equipment safety features are locked in place, including guard rails, grab bars, seat belts, and lock mechanisms on walkers and wheelchairs. Double check that the patient is secure before leaving the room.

Risk: Water safety

Possible scenario: Your employee runs a bath for a patient, not realizing that a new hot water heater has been installed, and that the water is significantly hotter than usual. The patient enters the bath and receives third degree burns to their body.

Key takeaway: Always check the water temperature of baths or showers before allowing the patient to enter. Always ensure adequate patient supervision around water.

Risk: Transportation safety

Possible scenario: Your employee forgets to lock a patient’s wheelchair in a transport vehicle, resulting in the chair rolling and ejecting the patient.

Key takeaway: Check and double check wheel locks, prosthetics, safety rails and seat belts when transporting a patient. Ensure that items such as walkers, canes and portable oxygen concentrators are stored and secured properly in a moving vehicle.

Risk: Medication safety 

Possible scenario: Your employee leaves one of your patient’s medications on the bathroom counter and the patient’s grandchild ingests them.

Key takeaway: Always keep medications in childproof containers when in the home. If your employees are permitted to provide medications to patients, always double check the timing and dosage of medications before administering to the patient.

 

Patient safety should always be top of mind for your employees. Ensure your organization offers regular safety training to ensure employees are aware of potential hazards, are able to effectively manage these risks in their daily work, and can respond appropriately should an incident arise.

It’s also vital to ensure that your business has adequate General Liability and Professional Liability coverage to help protect your business and your employees from the financial burden of a lawsuit, should a claim situation occur.

For more information about how you can minimize risk for your business, and to ensure you have the coverage you need, reach out to your VGM Insurance Services Account Manager, or contact us today at info@vgminsurance.com  or 800-362-3363.

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