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National Patient Safety Foundation Issues Guidelines on Root Cause Analysis
Recommendations To Be Discussed During Free Webcast
July 15 from 1:00-2:00 pm
Register for free webcast;
download full report:

The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), a central voice for patient safety since 1997, released guidelines on June 16, 2015 which were developed to help health care organizations improve the way they investigate medical errors, adverse events, and near misses. RCA2: Improving Root Cause Analyses and Actions to Prevent Harmhas been endorsed by a number of related organizations and is being widely distributed to hospitals, health systems, physician practices and other settings.

Millions of patients in the United States are harmed every year as a result of the health care they receive. Root cause analysis (RCA) is a process widely used by health professionals to learn how and why errors occurred, but there have been inconsistencies in the success of these initiatives. With a grant from The Doctors Company Foundation, NPSF convened a panel of subject matter experts and stakeholders to examine best practices around RCAs and develop guidelines to help health professionals standardize the process.

James P. Bagian, MD, PE, a member of the NPSF Board of Governors and director of the Center for Health Engineering and Patient Safety at the University of Michigan, served as co-chair of the expert panel along with Doug Bonacum, CSP, CPPS, vice president, Quality, Safety, and Resource Management, Kaiser Permanente, and a member of the NPSF Board of Directors.

“We’ve renamed the process RCA2—RCA squared—with the second A meaning action, because unless real actions are taken to improve things, the RCA effort is essentially a waste of everyone's time,” said Dr. Bagian. “A big goal of this project is to help RCA teams learn to identify and implement sustainable, systems-based actions to improve the safety of care.”

RCA is commonly conducted after harm occurs. The NPSF guidelines emphasize the need to prioritize hazards based on the risk they pose, even if harm has not occurred. Prioritizing hazards according to risk is consistent with the practice of other high-reliability industries, such as aviation.

Dr. Bagian and Mr. Bonacum will discuss the new guidelines during an open webcast scheduled for Wednesday, July 15, at 1:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Registration is free of charge. RCA2: Improving Root Cause Analyses and Actions to Prevent Harm may be downloaded from the NPSF website at

About the National Patient Safety Foundation
The National Patient Safety Foundation’s vision is to create a world where patients and those who care for them are free from harm. A central voice for patient safety since 1997, NPSF partners with patients and families, the health care community, and key stakeholders to advance patient safety and health care workforce safety and disseminate strategies to prevent harm. NPSF is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. To learn more about the Foundation’s work, visit

About The Doctors Company Foundation
Created in 2008 by the largest national insurer of medical liability for physicians, surgeons and other health professionals, The Doctors Company Foundation provides charitable grants to support patient safety research, forums and pilot programs, patient safety education programs and medical liability research. Learn more at