Central Steps for Conducting a Root Cause Analysis in Healthcare Guide

Central Steps for Conducting a Root Cause Analysis in Healthcare

A root cause analysis in healthcare is a structured method used to analyze adverse events and other types of incidents. When done effectively, an RCA can detect the underlying issues in processes that contributed to an incident so that measures can be put into place to reduce related events from happening in the future.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to conduct a root cause analysis at your healthcare organization.

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A root cause analysis (RCA) is a method utilized to examine harmful incidents and other types of events in healthcare. The goal of an RCA is to identify breakdowns in processes and systems that contributed to an adverse event and/or increase the likelihood of an error with a non-punitive approach.

When conducted effectively, an RCA can identify factors that contributed to an event so that interventions can be carried out to eliminate contributing factors, improve patient safety, reduce related costs, and ultimately prevent future harm.

While RCA methodologies may differ, the RCA process is designed to answer three questions:

  • What happened?
  • Why did it happen?
  • What can be done to prevent it in the future?

Performing a root cause analysis of a sentinel event involves data collection, staff interviews, and literature reviews, which culminates in the identification of the root cause of a problem and interventions to minimize or eliminate the risk of recurrence of the incident.

Root Cause Analysis Technology Solutions


Many healthcare organizations turn to technology platforms such as an incident reporting system to ensure they are following standardized processes when conducting an RCA. An incident reporting software:

  • Ensures consistency in the root cause analysis 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 – getting organizations closer to zero harm

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

To learn more about root cause analysis for healthcare, and how our software can help your organization meet its safety and quality goals, request a demo with our team.