Risk management for private practitioners

As private practitioners, we tend to focus on the risk to our clients, and how we can manage or avoid them. However, it’s also important to take steps to reduce the risk to yourself, so that you can feel safe, enjoy your work and provide good quality of care.

Physical risk

When you work in private practice, you’ll usually be on your own - whether in a home office or a therapy room. While threats to your safety are rare, it’s important to minimise the risk to yourself so that you feel confident and protected.

For example, if you’re used to seeing potentially violent or seriously disturbed clients in a medical environment, you may simply have to accept that you will be unable to treat them in private practice. Also, when carrying out an initial assessment, you should find out whether there is any previous history of violence - and if you have any doubts, make a referral.

Here are some other tips:

1. Make sure your consultation room is a light, bright, friendly environment, preferably on the ground floor, with easy access to escape routes. This will help both you and your client to feel comfortable.

2. Sit closer to the exit than your client - but make sure they don’t feel trapped.

3. If you see clients at home, you could try to give the impression that there is someone else in the house - for example, leave a radio on in a room as you pass. On the other hand, your client should never have to worry that their privacy is compromised.

4. Attend a course on how to identify and manage aggressive behaviour. You can also get self-defence training - this will boost your confidence and help you to deal with any rare instances of physical attack.

Emotional risk

Protecting your well being is just as important as protecting your physical safety. Find out more about how to deal with your caseload and create balance in your professional and personal life here.

Professional risk

It’s important to protect yourself against clinical negligence claims with professional indemnity insurance. You should also protect your office from theft or damage. Having professional indemnity also ensures that if you do make an error then your client will be able to receive compensation. Find out about all types of insurance here.

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