Root Cause Analysis and Medical Error Prevention


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Start Date

1 Sep 2023

Last Review Date

12 Feb 2024

Expiration Date

31 Aug 2026

Estimated Time To Finish

120 Minutes

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Activity Description

The term "medical error" encompasses diverse events that vary in magnitude and can potentially harm the patient. According to the 2019 World Health Organization (WHO) Patient Safety Factsheet, adverse events due to unsafe patient care are among the top 10 causes of death and disability worldwide. However, understanding that healthcare delivery involves multiple variables in a dynamic environment with many critical decisions made quickly is essential to finding the underlying causes of adverse events. Reducing medical errors requires a multifaceted approach at various levels of healthcare. In the event of a sentinel occurrence or adverse patient outcomes, a thorough evaluation is warranted to prevent such events. Root cause analysis provides a method of assessment for these situations so that a system-based intervention can be implemented rather than blaming individual clinicians. Upon completing this activity, healthcare professionals will gain a comprehensive understanding that root cause analysis (RCA) is a mandated process for healthcare institutions to mitigate future errors and promote patient safety. By acquiring proficiency in RCA application and methodology, healthcare professionals can effectively drive changes and improvements within the healthcare setting, resulting in enhanced patient care and a reduction in medical errors. The course also highlights the interprofessional team's role in performing this analysis to prevent medical errors and improve clinical outcomes.

Target Audience

This activity has been designed to meet the educational needs of physicians, physician associates, nurses, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, dentists, and social workers.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, the learner will be better able to:

  • Implement effective root cause analysis of a sentinel event and strategies for prevention.

  • Apply root cause analysis reporting standards in accordance with the Joint Commission requirements.

  • Identify the indications for reporting sentinel events to the Joint Commission and the steps that should be taken following the occurrence of such incidents.

  • Collaborate within an interprofessional team to prevent the most common types of clinical errors and improve clinical outcomes.


StatPearls, LLC requires everyone who influences the content of an educational activity to disclose relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies that have occurred within the past 24 months. Ineligible companies are organizations whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients. All relevant conflict(s) of interest have been mitigated. Hover over contributor names for financial disclosures. Others involved in planning this educational activity have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Commercial Support: This activity has received NO commercial support.

Continuing Education Accreditation Information

In support of improving patient care, StatPearls, LLC is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

As a Jointly Accredited Organization, StatPearls, LLC is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved under this program. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. StatPearls, LLC maintains responsibility for this course. Social workers completing this course receive 2.00 continuing education credits.

Social Workers: StatPearls, LLC designates this continuing education activity for 2.00 ASWB ACE credit(s) for social workers. Social Workers should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Please consult your professional licensing board for information on the applicability and acceptance of continuing education credit for this activity.

Method of Participation and Credit

  1. Register for the activity.    
  2. Review the target audience, learning objectives, and disclosure information.
  3. Study the educational content of the enduring material.
  4. Choose the best answer to each activity test question. To receive credit and a certificate, you must pass the test questions with a minimum score of 100%.
  5. Complete the post-activity assessment survey.

If you have concerns regarding the CE/CME system, please contact


This educational activity was planned and produced in accordance with the ACCME Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education. Faculty may discuss investigational products or off-label uses of products regulated by the FDA. Readers should verify all information before employing any therapies described in this educational activity.

The information provided for this activity is for continuing education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical/clinical judgment of a healthcare provider relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient’s medical condition. The information presented does not necessarily reflect the views of StatPearls or any commercial supporters of educational activities on StatPearls expressly disclaims responsibility for any adverse consequences resulting directly or indirectly from information in the course, for undetected error, or through a participant's misunderstanding of the content.

Unapproved Uses of Drugs/Devices: In accordance with FDA requirements, the audience is advised that information presented in this continuing education activity may contain references to unlabeled or unapproved uses of drugs or devices. Please refer to the FDA-approved package insert for each drug/device for full prescribing/utilization information.

Cancellation Policy: Please see the cancellation policy. StatPearls, LLC reserves the right to cancel any course due to unforeseen circumstances.




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