Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA): a tool useful in Medicine



Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a proactive process aimed at predicting the adverse outcomes of various human and machine failures,and system states. It has been used in engineering to predict design failures in machines to increase safety. Could be used also to teach and learn Medicine?

FMEA is complementary to Root Cause Analysis (RCA).FMEA seeks to know the effects of each of all possible causal sets. RCA seeks to know the causal set of each of all possible effects. The use of FMEA has been applied already in Medicine to analize medication errors and system failures but not in clinical practice. Can be this method applied to clinical practice? The truth is that clinicians are using this way of thinking during the follow-up of patients with chronic diseases. For instance in a diabetic patient the important “failure” must be predicted in the kidneys, blood vessels or retinal area. FMEA could be used in this way as a very valuable tool for teaching and improving clinical reasoning.

 Qual Saf Health Care 2004;13:249–250.
doi: 10.1136/qshc.2004.010868

This is a paragraph from this paper:
“FMEA and RCA really do work to improve the safety of patients, and they really are mantras. When the names are repeated in court along with records showing that the procedures they stand for were performed, they may protect you against ruinous litigation costs and losses by showing that you did everything you could think of to avoid preventable injury to a patient.