Tips to help protect your patients, caregivers and community
Home health and hospice organizations often rely on non-owned and hired fleets to deliver essential care to patients. While your agency may not own these vehicles, it could share liability in the event of an accident. Not every accident is avoidable, but developing policies, procedures and training that addresses common risks may help to reduce your agency’s exposure. Use these tips to help develop your own driver safety program.
Preparing your non-owned vehicles and hired drivers for the road
The first step to implementing a driver safety program begins with the hiring process. Include a list of complete driving responsibilities within the job description, as well as the required licensing.
Before beginning the screening process for candidates, define what criteria drivers must pass. For example, criteria could include:
- No more than three moving violations
- No more than one at-fault accident in the past 36 months
- No major convictions (driving under the influence or alcohol or drugs) within the past seven years
- No license suspensions or revocations within the past seven years
- In addition, consider obtaining and verifying the following items as part of the hiring process:
- Photocopy of a current, valid driver’s license
- Evidence of current auto liability insurance that meets the state’s minimum requirements
During the orientation process, make sure that new employees are given a copy of the job description and ask for signed verification that they have read and understand your organization’s driving policies.
Policies should include periodic motor vehicle reports (MVR) and address any permitted or prohibited activities such as patient transport, errands or social activities.
Just because a caregiver has passed state requirements for their driver’s license doesn’t mean that they couldn’t benefit from regular training. An annual refresher on safe driving, patient handling safety and incident reporting can help empower drivers to make safer decisions while on the road. Reminders on basic vehicle maintenance, seatbelt safety and cellphone use may also be included to help ensure roadway safety.
Distracted Driving Awareness
Distracted driving isn’t new, but it remains a serious and deadly issue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people died from motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver in 2019.
As an employer of commuting caregivers, it’s imperative to find new, effective ways to bring awareness to distracted driving. The NHTSA and other safety organizations offer free resources, but there are also devices and simulations that demonstrate the difficulty and consequences of distracted driving.
Driver Monitoring Systems
You can’t always be in the vehicle with your caregivers, but with today’s technology, you can get a better understanding of their driving habits. Driver monitoring systems help detect ‘risky’ behaviors by tracking vehicle’s route, speed and distance from other cars on the road.
Besides gathering relevant data, requiring the use of driver monitoring systems may help reduce incidents. Caregivers may be more likely to drive defensively if they know that they’re being monitored.
Incident Reporting and Response
Even the best of drivers can end up in an auto accident. Knowing how to respond and report a vehicle incident can help your organization mitigate future risk.
After an incident occurs, gather as much information as possible. Interview the employees involved and document their version of events. If possible, try to reenact the incident to gain a better understanding of the factors involved. As part of your internal investigation, compare reports from law enforcement, witnesses and any other drivers involved whenever possible. Additionally, ensure that the date and time of the incident occurred during the caregiver’s set schedule.
Depending on the conclusion of your internal investigation, different responses may be needed. Your organization may require the involved caregiver to complete additional training or receive disciplinary action. As part of the decision-making process, a review of the driver’s last MVR should be taken into consideration. Check to see if a pattern of risky behavior has emerged since the caregiver’s date of hire.
Your caregivers are your most valuable asset as a healthcare organization. Ensuring that they have the tools and training to commute more safely helps protect both them and your patients. Help your organization to keep delivering exceptional care by developing an effective driver safety program.
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