Posted: September 5th, 2013
Failure mode effects analysis is a technique that leads to identification of an error in a process or a product and prevention of it before its occurrence (Dr. Smith, 2007). This method helps identify concerns that occur during the evolution of a project and comes up with ways to eliminate them, either by formulation of new methods or upgrading of existing ones. The main purpose of use of this method in healthcare is the prevention of occurrences that pose harm to patients, employees and families involved. Its main aim is to improve the overall safety in healthcare settings and operations (Health Devices, 2002).
FMEA target specific areas in a healthcare system and this are new processes incorporated into the system, existing processes undergoing change or improvement, existing processes undergoing implementation in new environments. There are different types of FMEA one being transactional FMEA. It considers the different transactions that take place in healthcare centers and goes through the transaction process itself to figure out where a problem is capable of occurring hence implementing a change that will avert the occurrence of the problem. The other type of FMEA is the technique dealing with the system. This technique is used to analyze healthcare systems in their conceptual stage, anticipate, and deal with failures in relation to the functionality of the system (Dr. Smith, 2007).
This technique is applicable in general healthcare settings in risk management in that it identifies the weak spot in an action plan. By realization of a weak spot that is bound to bring risk to the action plan the management can curb it before its occurrence hence aiding in averting a situation that would cause harm to its employees or the patients in that particular system. Since FMEA involves multi-disciplinary representatives, the representative who possesses the best knowledge in that field explains the concerns from the department they represent in the healthcare facility in detail and hence their concerns are incorporated in the goals of the team (Dr. Smith, 2007). This ensures that the technique approaches a process from all angles hence it becomes easier to spot problem areas.
FMEA is a structured approach that is specific in its purpose hence is partly quantitative as it puts into consideration the financial consequence as well as the qualitative and ethical consequences of the problem (Health Device, 2002). This strategic approach applied in FMEA ensures that by risk aversion the healthcare management will be able to minimize costs that would rise in repair or compensation of the damage that would have occurred if the problem areas were not identified. By realization of the magnitude of the risks involved, the system can manage to prioritize their action plans in the improvement of the situation by tackling the more serious problem areas first and dealing with the less serious after. FMEA is of overall benefit to the healthcare management as it improves the reliability and safety of the processes (Dr. Smith, 2002). This is possible because by subjection to FMEA the problem areas are identified early in the formulation process and eliminated therefore by the time the plan gets implemented it is free of errors.
FMEA is also important in a healthcare system as it documents risk reduction activities that are because of the implementation of the strategy therefore can help gain customer satisfaction and trust as they can trace the safety brought about by use of failure mode and effects analysis strategies. As PMEA ideas are future-based, that is, they deal with anticipated problems; consequent process development time becomes significantly reduced as structured information is carried on to subsequent projects for modification with the passing of time. FMEA reduces the risk of occurrence of sentinel events as it helps in their prediction leading to introduction of a system to handle them therefore this technique increases the level of preparedness of the healthcare. By using this method the management can discover how ready its existing system is to tackle sentinel events and what is already under implementation in curbing the occurrence of the expected events. The team should have a clear understanding of the healthcare challenges faced to set up a process that is compatible with the healthcare system itself. In this way, the method should be effective in overcoming the problems noted, as the methods set for combating the problems are compatible with the system.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations sets the standards on hospital meant to ensure there is a safe environment and safe service provision (Kirsten, 2010). Therefore, JCAHO expects that the healthcare providers should implement strategies aimed towards the goal of safer health care. Introduction of application of FMEA in healthcare systems in the United States occurred in the 1990’s. In relation to FMEA, case studies should be done on systems, processes, and FMEA strategies applied (Kirsten, 2010). It indicates that the processes for FMEA application in the hospital be identified and documentations made for traceability and future reference.
Dr. Smith, D. L. (2007). FMEA: Preventing a Failure before Any Harm Is Done. SixSigma. Retrieved from http://www.fmeainfocentre.com/updates/FMEA%20Preventing%20a%20Failure%20Before%20Any%20Harm%20Is%20Done%20.pdf
Health devices. (2002). An introduction to FMEA. Using failure mode and effects analysis to meet JCAHO’s proactive risk assessment requirement. Failure Modes and Effect Analysis
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