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    What Is Root Cause Analysis?


    Have you ever wondered what causes mental health conditions and emotional suffering, or about the culprit behind the distressing symptoms that never seem to go away for yourself or a loved one?

    Getting to the bottom of it is possible with root cause analysis (RCA). Let’s talk about root cause analysis in psychiatry and how we use it to help our patients.

    What Is Root Cause Analysis, and How Does It Work?

    Root cause analysis is a problem-solving method used to identify the underlying or fundamental cause of a fault, problem, or issue. Originating from the broader field of total quality management, root cause analysis focuses on addressing and correcting the root cause rather than only dealing with immediate concerns.

    RCA is commonly used in various industries—especially in manufacturing, engineering, and healthcare—to improve products, processes, and services. The process typically involves the following six steps:

    1. Identify the problem: Clearly define the problem or incident to be investigated.
    2. Collect data: Gather detailed information about the problem and each of its manifestations.
    3. Analyze causes: Use various techniques (e.g., the “five whys" method, fishbone diagrams, and Pareto analysis) to determine underlying causes of the problem.
    4. Identify solutions: Propose ways to address these root causes to prevent the problem from recurring.
    5. Implement changes: Take action to correct the root causes at the source of the problem.
    6. Monitor: Observe the situation after implementation to ensure the problem has been effectively resolved.

    This proactive approach to problem-solving aims to improve quality and efficiency by eliminating errors at their source. The goal is not to assign blame but rather to understand the problem's origin and take corrective action to prevent recurrence. Today, it’s being used in psychiatric care for the same reason.

    Our Approach: Exploring Root Cause Psychiatry™

    Root Cause Psychiatry™—the application of root cause analysis to mental health conditions is used to identify and address the underlying causes of mental health conditions rather than simply treating a person’s symptoms and behaviors.

    Root causes of mental health conditions range from unconscious determinants to genes, the immune system, the gut microbiome, mitochondrial function, infectious diseases, and toxic, metabolic, endocrine, and environmental factors. By honing in on root causes such as these, we can more effectively treat a treatment blueprint for each patient.Take Lyme disease, for example. Chronic psychiatric conditions can be triggered by infectious diseases such as Lyme, mono, or strep. By identifying that as a root cause, we can more effectively treat the individual who is suffering from chronic mental illness—often with an antibiotic or antiviral medication.

    The "N of One" Approach

    At Potomac Psychiatry, we use a combination of evidence-based psychiatric treatments, lifestyle modifications, nutritional interventions, genetic and laboratory tests, and as-needed collaborative care with other healthcare professionals, such as endocrinologists, immunologists, and infectious disease specialists.

    This approach allows us to evaluate the entire mental health ecosystem and create a personalized treatment road map for each individual patient—and the whole patient at that. We call it the “N of One” approach, which means we identify and treat underlying root causes rather than simply applying population-based scientific knowledge for mental health treatment.

    Fundamental to Root Cause Psychiatry™ at Potomac, this approach is especially beneficial for treatment-resistant patients, who have often explored countless methods and medications with little to no success. Rather than taking a frustrating trial-and-error approach or relying on the process of elimination, we go straight to the root causes, helping our patients feel better faster at a lower cost.

    Want to dive deeper into Root Cause Psychiatry™, genetic testing, and other innovative methods in psychiatric care? Start your personal recovery plan today.

    Contact us for a no-cost 15-minute consultation

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