Course: Risk Management Focus: Root Cause Analysis for Physicians
Author: Rosemary Gafner and James Schutte
AMA PRA Category 1 credits: 2
Estimated Hours to Complete Course: 1.75
Estimated Minutes to Complete Test: 15
Course Release Date: 4/1/2014
Course Expiration Date: 12/31/2021
Root cause analysis and medical error prevention.

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Risk Management Focus: Root Cause Analysis for Physicians


Root cause analysis (RCA) works by first identifying and defining a recurrent problem, then systematically analyzing the factors that may be causing or contributing to the problem so that they can be corrected. RCA can be used to solve a variety of problems in both professional and personal settings, and is usually done by asking “why?” until you get to the true cause of the problem.


When you complete this course, you should be able to:

- Understand how root cause analysis can be used to solve recurring problems by identifying the underlying sources of the problems.

- Use root cause analysis prospectively to identify and avoid potential problems before they occur.

- Discuss the importance of teamwork in establishing and following written protocols and cross-checking each other’s work in protecting against human errors.

- Describe the best process for creating and using checklists.

Target Audience

This course is designed for physicians of all specialties who want to reduce medical errors.


This is a self-study course consisting of text and CME test, which enables learners to study at their leisure and internalize the content at their own pace. Physicians should read the course content, answer the test questions and submit the answers for scoring. Those who complete the course with a score of 80 percent or higher will earn a maximum of 2 AMA PRA Category 1 creditsTM.


This course was developed by Rosemary Gafner, Ed.D. and James E. Schutte, Ph.D. Their CVs are available online at

CME Information

Risk Management, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing education for physicians. Medical Risk Management, Inc.designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2 AMA PRA Category 1 creditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Estimated time to complete this activity: 2 hours.

This activity is valid for release April 1, 2019 and expires on December 31, 2021. Estimated time to complete this course: 2 hours.

Commercial Support

This activity was developed by Medical Risk Management, Inc. without support from any commercial interest.


No one in a position to influence course content has anything to disclose.

Original release date: June 1, 2013.