Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a problem-solving technique used to identify the
underlying causes of an issue or problem. The goal of RCA is to identify and
address the root cause of a problem rather than simply addressing its symptoms.
Root Cause Analysis is
commonly used in industries such as healthcare, and aviation, where even minor
errors can have significant consequences. The process involves gathering data
and information about the problem, identifying the immediate cause(s), and then
working backward to identify the root cause(s).
should we use Root Cause Analysis in home care?
general, RCA can be used in home care whenever an adverse event occurs, or when
there is a concern about patient safety or quality of care. It can help
identify the root causes of the issue and develop strategies to prevent similar
incidents from occurring in the future.
situations in home care where RCA may be appropriate include:
1. Patient falls or injuries: If a patient
falls or experiences an injury while receiving home care, conducting an RCA can
help identify the contributing factors, such as environmental hazards or
medication side effects, and develop strategies to prevent future incidents.
2. Medication errors: Medication errors are
a common issue in healthcare, and home care is no exception. Conducting an RCA
can help identify the underlying causes of the error, such as miscommunication
or lack of training, and develop strategies to prevent similar errors from occurring
in the future.
3. Infection control issues: Infection
control is essential in home care to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Conducting an RCA can help identify the causes of an infection outbreak, such
as inadequate hand hygiene or improper cleaning procedures, and develop
strategies to prevent future outbreaks.
Root Cause Analysis has
- Improving processes and systems: By identifying
the root cause of a problem, RCA helps to identify opportunities for
process and system improvements that can prevent future issues.
- Reducing costs: By identifying and addressing the
root cause of a problem, RCA helps to reduce costs associated with the
problem, such as costs associated with rework or corrective action.
- Improving safety: In industries such as healthcare
and aviation, RCA helps to improve safety by identifying and addressing
the root cause of safety incidents or errors.
- Identifying the underlying cause of a problem: RCA
helps to identify the root cause of an issue, which can then be addressed
to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.
Root Cause Analysis and Home
The Colorado Department
of Public Health and Environment is responsible for licensing and surveying
home care agencies in Colorado. During surveys, deficiencies are cited for
non-compliance with state and federal regulations. Here are some of the top
home care deficiencies cited in Colorado:
Quality of care: Deficiencies related to the
quality of care provided by home care agencies, including medication
administration errors, failure to follow care plans, and inadequate patient
assessment and monitoring.
Staffing: Deficiencies related to
staffing, including inadequate staffing levels, insufficient staff training and
competency, and failure to conduct background checks on staff members.
prevention and control:
Deficiencies related to infection prevention and control practices, including
improper hand hygiene, failure to follow standard precautions, and inadequate
cleaning and disinfection practices.
Deficiencies related to patient rights and responsibilities, including failure
to obtain informed consent, inadequate protection of patient confidentiality,
and failure to provide patients with access to their medical records.
Documentation: Deficiencies related to
documentation practices, including incomplete, inaccurate, or missing
Deficiencies related to the physical environment of the patient’s residence,
including inadequate maintenance of equipment (when it belongs to the home
health agency), failure to report equipment malfunction(s), and unsafe
an example of RCA in action for a home care agency with deficiencies related to
documentation practices, including incomplete, inaccurate, or missing
Cause Analysis (RCA) helps a home care agency address deficiencies related to
documentation practices by identifying the underlying causes of incomplete,
inaccurate, or missing documentation. Here’s an overview of how RCA helps a
home care agency improve documentation practices:
- Identify the problem: The first step in RCA is to
identify the problem, which in this case is incomplete, inaccurate, or
missing documentation. This might be the result of a variety of factors,
such as insufficient training, inadequate staffing, or a lack of
- Gather data: Home care agency staff can gather
data on the problem, such as how often incomplete or inaccurate
documentation occurs, which staff members are involved, and which types of
documentation are most frequently incomplete or inaccurate.
- Analyze the data: The next step is to analyze the
data to determine the underlying causes of incomplete or inaccurate
documentation. This may involve using tools such as fishbone diagrams or
flowcharts to identify contributing factors.
- Identify contributing factors: Through the
analysis, RCA can help identify contributing factors to the documentation
problem. Contributing factors could include staff members being overloaded
with tasks, inadequate training, lack of accountability, or poor
communication among staff members.
- Develop and implement corrective actions: Once
contributing factors are identified, RCA can help home care agency staff
develop and implement corrective actions to address the problem.
Corrective actions may include additional staff training, changes to
documentation procedures or templates, or the implementation of new
- Monitor progress: Finally, RCA can help home care
agency staff monitor progress over time to determine if the corrective
actions are effective in improving documentation practices. Regular
monitoring can help identify if the underlying causes of incomplete or
inaccurate documentation have been addressed and whether additional
corrective actions are necessary.
summary, Root Cause Analysis can help home care agencies identify the underlying causes of
incomplete, inaccurate, or missing documentation, develop and implement
corrective actions, and monitor progress over time. This approach can lead to
improved documentation practices, which can improve the quality and safety of
care provided to patients. The reader can apply these steps to any of the
deficiencies cited to drill down to the causes and develop and implement
corrective action. Monitoring is always part of the process even when we reach
100% accuracy because you want to ensure that practices are maintained with no
slack in the future.
The answer to the eNews question is FALSE. RCA is NOT used in a home care agency for every minor
failure and unplanned incident. It is time-consuming and requires analysis and study. For failures where effects are minor or non-existent or they are
unlikely to reoccur due to unique conditions, root cause analysis will not be beneficial.
CHC provides the following Quality
Management offers on its Virtual Classroom
- QMP: All
About Data https://homehealthcerts.com/product/qmp-all-about-data/,
- QMP/QAPI: Is your program compliant? https://homehealthcerts.com/product/qmp-qapi-is-your-program-compliant-class-a-and-b/,
- Quality Management Program, https://homehealthcerts.com/product/quality-management-program/,
- The Plan in the Quality Management Program, https://homehealthcerts.com/product/2021-quality-management-program-plan/.
Business School – https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/root-cause-analysis