Root Cause Analysis in Healthcare - Invensis Learning

There are issues present in every organization across all industries that inhibit or hinder its growth. Organizations need to come up with permanent solutions for these problems so that they do not keep resurfacing time and time again. This means finding out what exactly is causing the issue in the first place and then resolving it. 

In case organizations do not do so and just focus on solving the problem at a surface level, it acts as nothing more than a band-aid. It does not address the underlying issue at hand, so the problem keeps resurfacing. To address the main problem and eliminate it once and for all, organizations across all industries conduct a root cause analysis.

What Is Root Cause Analysis (RCA)?

Any hindrance that has a negative impact on the operations or performance of a tool, process, or function in an organization is known as the root cause. It is a main problem that needs to be dealt with or eliminated, not its impact. It is the core issue that leads to incompetence and inefficiency in work processes.

Root cause analysis is the different ways in which organizations address the core problem and eliminate it. It involves finding out the root problem in itself, then coming up with different strategies or changes necessary to eliminate the problem. 

A basic problem in layman’s terms would be if one had rats at their restaurant eating their food. Covering up their food and packaging them differently to deal with this problem is not a permanent solution. The way the food is being packaged is not the main problem. The main problem or root cause, in this case, is the rats. Calling pest control services or setting rat traps to deal with the rats permanently is the permanent solution.

Similarly, a root cause analysis uses various tools and techniques to first find out the main problem in an organization, understand it, and then eliminate it. Industries around the world are using root cause analysis to improve their performance and eliminate errors. Root cause analysis in used in the healthcare industry, produce and agriculture industry, IT industry, energies industry, and more.

Why is conducting a root cause analysis important?

Conducting a thorough root cause analysis has many benefits, which is why it is considered a must in all companies, regardless of size and industry. Some of the reason why a root cause analysis is deemed to be so important are:

  • A root cause analysis deals with the core problem
  • It gives a permanent solution to address issues instead of temporary and time-consuming ones
  • It is a cost-effective approach to management and operations in an organization
  • It saves a lot of time for employees that would have been otherwise spent on fixing minor issues
  • It is a crucial step in managing risks to the organization

When Should Root Cause Analysis Be Performed?

Ideally, a root cause analysis should be conducted regularly. It can be done quarterly, biannually, or even once a year, but there are times when a root cause analysis is highly necessary. Mentioned below are some instances where a root cause analysis would be required in an organization: 

  • If there is a failure in delivery or service
  • If there is a delay in delivery or service
  • If there is a negative feedback from the client or customers
  • If there is a defect in the final product
  • If there is a loss in data
  • If the organization experiences some unexpected downtime
  • If a billing or other financial adjustments are being made for invalid reasons
  • If there are any unnecessary or undefined processes

Most of the small-scale problems organizations face daily may seem small but can have more profound and more serious issues that result in them. Identifying the root cause of these problems will improve the productivity in these organizations and help fix the main issue before it becomes a serious problem that can have a big and negative impact on the organization.

Organizations can improve the quality of their products and services with a root cause analysis and create new opportunities for growth, innovation, and improvement. Let us now explore the application of root cause analysis in healthcare.

Root Cause Analysis In Healthcare 

One such industry where root cause analysis can literally be the difference between life and death is the healthcare industry. Identifying root problems and solving them can help improve patient safety by a great deal and can potentially lead to preventing harm to the patients and even death. Else the root problems can become the biggest threats for all working professionals, suppliers, health professionals, manufacturers, and anyone involved with the medical or healthcare industry.

A root cause analysis can prove to be a preventative measure to avoid any serious problems and issues from taking place. The life of a patient is considered to be the most valuable, and any defects that can put someone’s life in danger needs to be prevented at all costs. This is where root cause analysis comes into the picture. Elimination of errors of any kind is an absolute necessity. There could be flaws that could go unnoticed in manufacturing of equipment, tools in the hospitals, or in the processes, which could cause temporary harm or even be fatal. To avoid this from taking place, healthcare professionals need to invest in regular, thorough, and consistent root cause analysis.

A root cause analysis is done in the healthcare industry to give professionals a systematic and precise view of their existing problems in detail and so that they can improve the overall quality and safety of the services they provide. 

The root cause analysis in healthcare serves a variety of purposes; some of them being:

  • To identify any vulnerabilities that exist in any of the systems that can lead to potential harm to the patients
  • To improve the risk management strategies in place
  • To eliminate the recurrence of any adverse events
  • To identify the root cause of any problem or a group of problems that may be related
  • To improve overall performance using calculated and strategic measures for improvement
  • To identify what processes need to be improved in the organization
  • To integrate the results of the root cause analysis with relevant programs in the enterprise
  • To make a clear assessment of the strategies that are working and those that are not

Final Thoughts

Even if there is no particular incident that needs to be addressed, healthcare professionals should invest in conducting root cause analysis regularly at their workplace. It is a proven preventative measure for reducing risk to a minimum level and eliminating most of the major threats in the healthcare industry. This way, all healthcare facilities will be able to provide optimal treatment and services to all the patients. 

There are many certifications available for working professionals in root cause analysis and general risk management processes, which can increase their scope of knowledge and gain expertise in the field. Some of the related training courses are:

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Diego Rodriguez works as a Six Sigma Black Belt professional for a leading manufacturing company. He possesses ample experience in various aspects of quality management, such as Lean, Six Sigma, Root Cause Analysis, Design Thinking, and more. His primary focus is to conduct tests and monitor the production phase and also responsible for sorting out the items that fail to meet the quality standards. Diego’s extensive work in the field has resulted in being an honorary member of quality associations globally. His areas of research include knowledge management, quality control, process design, strategic planning, and organizational performance improvement.


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