By Guest Blogger – Susan Christie
The author discusses how formal CAPA training can help solve the four most common CAPA deficiencies, and help avoid FDA 483 citations.
Corrective And Preventive Action (CAPA) is considered to be one of the most critical processes in a Quality Management System (QMS). CAPAs prevent nonconformities from recurring, as well as identify potential problems that have may occur within the QMS.
Both the CFR (820.100) and the ISO 13485 Standard (8.5.2 and 8.5.3, respectively) include similar requirements for establishing and maintaining a compliant CAPA process. The concept seems pretty straightforward, right?
Then why do so many companies struggle with this process, and go into panic mode during FDA inspections and Notified Body audits?
CAPA process deficiencies have long been the number one Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) violation cited in FDA Warning Letters. Therefore, providing trained experts to teach the CAPA process is well worth the investment to provide your employees with the expertise needed to implement a sustainable, effective and compliant process. Support from top management is a must for success.
7 Reasons Why There is LIttle Support for the CAPA Process
- Managers view CAPA as a necessary evil and apply minimum effort and resources to complete the required paperwork.
- All complaints, audit findings, shop floor nonconformities, etc., go straight into the CAPA system, resulting in what is known as “Death by CAPA.” There are hundreds of CAPAs to be dealt with, but the CAPAs languish and quickly become a mountain of overdue records.
- The lack of ability to conduct effective root cause analysis results in, at best, a band-aid solution, and recurrence of the same issues time and again.
- There is no risk-based or prioritization process that provides a triage for determining when a CAPA is appropriate, and how to classify its criticality.
- CAPA forms are either too restrictive, such as using “yes/no” questions, thereby stemming the creative flow of process thinking or, too open-ended, leaving the CAPA owner with little guidance for getting to the true root cause.
- Trending and metrics that would highlight quality issues before they become complaints are lacking, so most CAPAs are last-minute reactions to a crisis, instead of proactive improvement projects.
- Senior management has not allocated sufficient time and resources to CAPA owners in order to develop expertise, and clearly do not understand the nuances of FDA compliance, the ISO Standard, and responsibilities of CAPA ownership.
Consequences of an Ineffective CAPA System: FDA 483 Citations Are Possible
FDA 483 observations, Warning Letters and loss of your ISO 13485 certification are possible consequences of failing to manage your CAPA process. Imagine explaining to your customers why you lost your certification, and why they should keep you as a trusted supplier. That is not a conversation you want to have.
A weak CAPA process allows nonconformities to recur, results in manufacturing downtime, requires rework, and ends with scrapping product or lost customers. The consequences of a weak CAPA process negatively impact your company’s financial strategy and goals.
In order to prevent an increase in the cost of poor quality, your business cannot remain static. You need to improve and adopt best practices. Your CAPA process is a systematic way to make those improvements happen.
Characteristics of an Effective CAPA system?
- Easy to follow procedure
- Defined CAPA inputs
- Risk assessment and prioritization
- Root-cause investigation tools
- A well-defined action plan
- Metrics to track progress
- Communication of information and status
- Effectiveness checks
- Management support and escalation
What to Expect from Formal CAPA Training
Death by Powerpoint is not training (http://bit.ly/DeathbyPPT). Effective CAPA training requires hands-on participation in working through root-cause analysis with an expert. One of the best training tools are case studies based upon recent 483 observations. A CAPA training course should teach you how to:
- Accurately identify the cause of problems
- Prioritize your corrective and preventive actions using a risk-based approach
- Implement an appropriate corrective and/or preventive action, and
- Verify effectiveness of your actions
CAPA training should teach you how to reduce the length and number of investigations. Training will also help you master current problem-solving methodologies to identify true root causes, utilizing facts, instead of guesswork or opinion. The proper identification of the true root cause of a problem is critical, because otherwise your CAPA plan will fail to fix real problems.
Not all formal training needs to be in-person. Face-to-face training can be supplemented with more cost-effective training of concepts using webinars and recorded presentations. Interactive training is needed to supplement this training, so that students can practice what they learn.
How Training Solves Common CAPA Deficiencies
The four most common CAPA deficiencies are:
- Inadequate procedures
- Incomplete investigations
- Overdue actions, and
- Failure to perform an effectiveness check
Each of these deficiencies are addressed directly by CAPA training. Formal CAPA training reviews each of the requirements for your CAPA process, and trainers will often share samples of CAPA procedures and CAPA forms that they wrote and found to be effective. Learning multiple root cause investigation techniques, and practicing them using the case study technique, ensure that CAPAs are thoroughly investigated, rather than identifying superficial symptoms.
CAPA metrics are introduced during training to ensure that the CAPA process owner knows best practices for monitoring and analyzing the process. Finally, CAPA training includes specific examples of what is, and what is not, a proper technique for performing an effectiveness check.
Results After Formal CAPA Training
The best reason for making formal CAPA training available to the people responsible for CAPAs are the results you will experience after the training. For example:
- Elimination of hundreds of overdue CAPAs
- Reduction in nonconformities, scrap, rework and customer complaints
- Lower overall costs associated with quality problems
- Better FDA inspection and Notified Body outcomes, and
- Safer products for your customer
If you are interested in learning more about CAPA, please register for the Medical Device Academy’s CAPA Workshop on October 3 in San Diego. Click here to register for the event: http://bit.ly/MDAWorkshops.