Root Cause Analysis Examples to Use at Your Healthcare Organization


When done effectively, a root cause analysis (RCA) can identify factors that contributed to a harmful event so that corrective interventions can be made to address underlying causes, improve patient safety, reduce costs associated with risk, and prevent safety events from reoccurring.

In this guide, you’ll find root cause analysis examples you can use at your organization to better understand process gaps and get closer to zero harm.

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Root Cause Analysis Examples

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What's a Root Cause Analysis?


A root cause analysis in healthcare involves a process of identifying the source of a problem and developing a solution in a way that addresses where the true cause of an issue exists. By systematically analyzing the causes and effects of the various pieces and parts of a particular process, an RCA can be used by healthcare organizations to identify breakdowns in systems that contributed to an adverse event.

Because an RCA enables organizations to more easily recognize the actual causes of events and take corrective actions, it is also beneficial for significantly or totally preventing the same or similar events from recurring. As a result, organizations can improve patient and employee safety, and reduce organizational risk.

Further, organizations can also avoid unnecessary costs due to business interruption, increased regulation, and audits, among other factors. It’s also worth noting that when companies prioritize prevention more than merely treating superficial symptoms, public trust can be earned. Having an incident-free record is likely to attract and retain patients and employees, further promoting a culture of safety.

Root Cause Analysis Examples


The methodology used to conduct the RCA is important in understanding why an incident happened, and how to prevent it from happening in the future. There are several types of tools for root cause analysis including:

  • 5 Whys
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis
  • Fault Tree Analysis
  • Fishbone Diagram
  • Scatter Plot or Scatter Diagram
  • Pareto Chart
  • RCA2

Conducting an RCA – regardless of the methodology – involves data collection, staff interviews, and literature reviews; they culminate in the identification of the root cause of a problem as well as recommendations that will minimize or eliminate the risk of recurrence of the incident.

How an Incident Reporting System in Healthcare Can Facilitate the RCA Process


Creating a safe, fear-free environment for incident reporting is important to initiate a thorough root cause analysis, and the best way to create a culture of safety is by promoting a culture of reporting.

Reporting an incident triggers the initiation of an RCA.

Many organizations utilize technology platforms such as an incident reporting system to ensure they are following standardized processes when conducting an RCA. Incident reporting software automatically triggers the initiation of an RCA when an event is reported. It also:

  • Ensures consistency in the RCA methodology used
  • Tracks the progress of RCAs
  • Alerts relevant individuals about progress
  • Manages action items associated with the analysis
  • Serves as a central repository for information and further learning to prevent the same or similar incidents from occurring again

Performance Health Partner’s incident reporting software allows interdisciplinary teams to easily collaborate on systemic issues that lead to adverse events, allowing organizations to take a collaborative approach focused on learning and lasting improvements.


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To learn more about root cause analysis in healthcare, or to hear about how our incident reporting software can benefit your organization, request a demo with our team.

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