Acceptable Risk – Easy to talk about, but no one knows what it means


Standards about risk management always talk about “acceptable risk.” This is a qualitative term. Unfortunately, for much of healthcare there is no matching quantitative assessment or goal. Consider two examples.



Precision is acceptable

CV is 8% and goal is 10%

Residual risk is acceptable




It is possible to estimate the probability of a severe adverse event and to have an associated goal for such a probability but no one in healthcare does this. So one will see things like, “with this mitigation we have reduced the risk of the adverse event to an acceptable level” but the reality is no one knows what this really means.


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