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Risk regulation and healthcare

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Risk regulation analyses the organization and institutional settings for risk regulation and regulatory practice. This special issue focuses on risk regulation research with respect to two main areas of health care: infrastructure and service provisions and the risk regulation of critical areas relating to patient safety. This editorial draws out some of the main themes in risk regulation studies as they relate to these papers. Risk and governance issues consider which risks attract state regulatory responses and how risk debates connect with regulatory policy making. The emergence and reform of risk regulation and governance regimes is examined and varying perspectives offered on the status of experts, expertise and professionals in risk regulation. Many risk regulation initiatives are the result of public sector modernization programmes where the transferability of approaches and tools are taken for granted. How organizations respond to risk regimes and the extent to which organizations create their own risk regulation regimes thus become a clear focus in this volume. In medical situations, risk regulation may lead to resistance rather than openness and learning. The unintended consequences of risk regulation is an important theme: new financial frames of reference come into collision with other professional perspectives and performance data may be misinterpreted and misused. One strong message is that risk regulation in the UK is in a state of flux and that learning from crises and routine organizational data and experience are crucial in the resolution of the present difficult web of risk regulation initiatives.

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