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Correction, Corrective Action and Preventive Action

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Correction - it is a one time activity of correcting or rectifying a mistake/error. E.g. taking a medicine for symptomatic relief from fever

Corrective Action - is the action taken to eliminate the cause of the mistake/error to prevent it from recurring. This involves understanding the root cause and eliminating it. E.g. Identifying the actual reason for fever (viral/bacterial infection) and treating the infection

Preventive Action - is the action taken to prevent a potential mistake/error i.e. before it happens. E.g. maintaining proper hygiene and a healthy lifestyle to build up resistance to infections



An application oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Venugopal R on 5th October 2017. 




Episode 2- Question 3 - While correction is generally unavoidable, corrective actions and preventive actions are mostly optional. Describe the three terms with suitable example(s).


Are there situations where both preventive action and corrective action are undesirable and correction is the only  preferred action? 

Please answer in your own words. Plagiarised responses will not be accepted. 


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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Correction is a reaction to a problem or undesired situation to provide an immediate remedy to save a situation. We need to put the "fire out" immediately to prevent immediate damages. The correction related action gives no guarantee on fixing the cause of the problem and hence recurrence of the problem is very likely.


Correction, which may also be referred to as "Damage Control", once performed, we need to immediately attend to the corrective action that needs to be taken to avoid recurrence of the problem. Identifying an effective corrective action will be possible only if we know the right cause for the problem.


For instance, if a fire broke out due to an electric fault, we may trace the cause as the use of inferior cables whose insulation resistance was not up to the required standard. Then, the corrective action would be to replace all the cables with the right insulation standard. However, the same action of determining the right insulation material in the first place could have prevented the fire altogether. Thus, the same action, which is termed as "Corrective action",  could have become a "Preventive Action", had it been done pro-actively at the right time, in this case while selecting the cables.


It would have been a complete preventive action  if an FMEA had been done to identify all the possibles of a potential fire and taking the right precautions, be it on the design, materials or controls. Any of these actions if done, after a fire breaks out, will only become a corrective action, or at the best, if the lessons are carried over, a preventive action for any future installations.


The below table gives a few more examples of failures, with the typical correction and corrective actions. The preventive action, that could have prevented the failure, is also given in the last column. It may be noted that the preventive actions are described as "should have been".




It is hard to think of a situation where we need only correction and no corrective and preventive action. However for a new innovation, where we would be exploring something completely new with very limited background information and limited knowledge about failure modes, we are left with no option other than keep proceeding and attend to any failures that would crop up. Even then, there would be a learning from the failure and a causal analysis can lead to corrective action for similar situations.


Another thought that crosses my mind based on our understanding about the types of variations, if a failure happens due to a common cause error, where the cause may not be easily controllable, it may be debatable whether it is worthwhile taking a corrective action, which might not prove cost effective. For instance take for instance the missing baggage in an airport. If the rate of missing baggage is very, very low, it may be better to do a correction on the failed instances, which would involve efforts in tracing out the baggage, re-transporting it, payment of compensation etc. as against implementing a systemic corrective action. 


However, such effort vs pay-off decisions will have to be taken depending upon factors viz.  criticality of the failures, safety implications, impact on business credibility etc.

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Question 3 - While correction is generally unavoidable, corrective actions and preventive actions are mostly optional. Describe the three terms with suitable example(s).

Correction: It’s Reactive. It is initiated as per an SOP(Standard Operating procedure) or for the first time. Either way, it is likely to cost the business/ activity in terms of : Time, Effort, Money & last but not the least : Cost of Poor Quality(COPQ). It’s about the “Immediate Solution”. Eg : The Omlette cooked by the Chef disintegrated while flipping on the Pan. The Correction is : Replace the Omlette by preparing another one.

Corrective Action: Corrective action usually emerge from the 5 Why done on a Defect or Error that has occurred. Corrective action usually rectify the defect that has occurred. It is also documented for future reference and involve a Root Cause Analysis(RCA). Eg : Having made note of the “disintegrating” while cooking, the Chef raises the Heat level so that the Omlette base solidifies faster and thereby reducing the chance of disintegration. The Chef will also flip the Omlette more carefully/delicately so as to ensure the situation is addressed for the “Moment”.

Preventive Action: Preventive Action is the approach where the documented Error/Defect is worked upon so as to ensure that the same does not occur ever after. Often referred to as : Permanent Solution. This would sometimes involve a change in process or creating a New Process or changing a Product or Machinery with the end goal being : Permanent Solution/ Pokayoke. Eg : The wet grinder’s in hotels today have a lid with a Auto Shutoff feature wherein the machine halts when the lid is raised. Most Kitchen equipment in hotels are “High Risk” and the only way to ensure no injuries is to implement Pokayoke Solution to the potential risk or recorded risk.

Are there situations where both preventive action and corrective action are undesirable and correction is the only  preferred action? 

In some “High Sensitive” situations, the “Correction” or Plan of Correction becomes the only way. Let’s explain with two Examples: 1) High Profile VVIP Visit/Social Event: This is a Once in a life time event wherein “Failure” is not an option. In such situations an FMEA is prepared to anticipate all possible failure possibilities and corrective plan is kept ready just in case it is required. This could involve some cost overruns; but is worth the effort considering the Importance of the event. The same can also be related to a “Life Saving” Operation in an Operation Theatre. Time could be a vital factor in not allowing the situation to be addressed by a Corrective/Preventive action.

2) A more Scientific Example: The Space Shuttle: In this case, the immediate ‘Correction” to any deviation to the Planned sequence of events in Ascent/Descent could make a difference of Success/Failure of the mission.

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These are terms extensively used in ISO standards and QMS.


ISO 9000:2005 Sec 3.6 defines the above terms as follows:

Correction - Is the action to eliminate detected nonconformity

Corrective Action - Action to eliminate the cause of the detected non conformity

Preventive Action - Action to eliminate the cause of the potential non conformity


To explain these further in depth:

Correction: When a problem or defect occurs we need to consider several aspects

  • determine the magnitude of the problem
  • determine how to prevent it from getting bigger
  • How to address the current situation

Example: When contamination of bacterial infection is detected in the tissue culture plates of Banana plantlet cultures, the percent infestation need to be counted and disinfection measure need to be immediately taken up to curtail spread of infection.


One can call Correction as damage control. Although this correction takes steps to correct the problem but it does no bearing on the cause of the problem. So the problem corrected can reappear in the future.


Corrective Action: Now determine if the importance of the situation requires further action.

  • Was it a big deal?
  • What's the chance it will happen again?
  • Estimate of any future threat

The causes of the problem need to looked into to prevent the recurrence if it was a big deal.

in the above example one need to check for the causes of the contamination of tissue culture plates, check for the air flow in the culture room, personnel handling the culture platelets, overall environment in the lab. Analyse all the possible causes that caused contamination and avoid it occurring in future.

Preventive action: First you need to assess the risk and mitigate it based on the severity.

Again in the case of above example one need build a plan to check the air quality of lab in which tissue culture work is happening, equipment maintenance and clean room procedures that need to be followed to prevent the contamination from reoccurring again.

The example where in both Corrective and Preventive actions are undesirable and Correction is the only desirable action is lets consider a customer had ordered for 500 pieces of white Arrow shirts online through an e portal and the customer was delivered with only 450 pieces of shirts. In this case immediate correction of supplying remaining 50 shirts to the customer need to be organized by the e portal company on a urgent basis.


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Correction is a quick fix to immediately take control of the situation. Corrective action focusses on the root cause of the problem and addresses it, to take care of possible recurrence of the problem. Preventive action focusses on elimination of any possible similar issues that may come up based on the experience gained due to problem that has already occurred. Preventive action basically focusses on potential root causes that would create problem. Lets take problem as buttons in the shirt has fallen off. Correction would be to stich the button back so that shirt can be put to use immediately. Corrective action would be to identify what caused this problem, if the root cause turns out to be the way shirts are washed, then corrective action should be to change the way that shirt is washed, so that this problem of shirt buttons getting cut off can be avoided. So based on the root cause corrective action should be decided to remove those root causes from the system. So that in future even if problem persists it should not be from same root cause. For preventive action we need to look at this problem and gather learning and try to use this learning and plugin in all potential causes that may create problems related to shirt button.

In Research and Development situations, largely correction may be applicable in most of the situations, where as preventive and corrective action may not be applicable. Since the scope of the operation itself is to explore on all possible permutation and combinations in reasearch, largely focus would be to make course correction and keep exploring.

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Correction is the action to eliminate a detected non-conformity. It is a reactive approach. This is immediate action to make customer/managment happy. it is to fix the non conformity at same time or to reduce its impact. For example on assembly line some wrong variant parts has been delivered then to replace the wrong variant parts is the correction so that assembly line dont stop.


Corrective action is the action to eliminate the cause of a non- conformity and to prevent recurrence. Corrective action can be horizontal deployment. This is the thing that you do to ensure the non conformity never happens again. It also requires some strategic thinking. Therefore, it is crucial to always identify causes of nonconformities before defining and implementing a corrective action. Corrective action for the above problem is to find out root causes of delivering wrong variant parts on line and to eliminate it like training to manpower, some identification tag, proper plan. So many ways to eliminate the root cause. Eliminate root cause by considering future threat of the occurred problem and impact of it.


Preventive action is the action to eliminate the cause of a  potential non - conformity or other potential undesirable situation. It is proactive in nature. It has no relation with he actual non. conformity. It means nothing bad actually happened. These actions are improvements in the system to ensure detrimental system gaps are addressed before a nonconformity occurs.  Some tools can be used for this like checksheet, FMEA, FTA. As a proactive approach, i should find out initially before set up the process the potential failure on assembly line while delivery to parts, so FMEA can be done before and later on we can have checksheet for delivery to maintain a record and to ensure only right parts deliver on line.


There are situations where preventive and corrective actions are undesirable and correction is the only  preferred method. This happens in low risk/impact problems. A problem which is having impact on customer /management negligible, can be solved just by correcting it. No need to go further.

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These three terms were made very popular by the ISO 9001 standards couple of decades ago. "Correction" refers to the actions that are taken to rectify  the non-conforming product after a defect has been found. For e.g. fixing the bugs in a piece of software.

"Corrective action" refers to the actions that are taken to prevent the recurrence of the non conformity or defect. Note the emphasis on the word recurrence - it means that it has occurred once but that we want to prevent it from happening again. For e.g. updating a coding standards or guidelines document to include the most common causes of coding errors so that developers can avoid them in future.

"Preventive action" refers to actions that are taken to prevent the occurrence of errors in the first place. This requires the ability to foresee what kind of errors are likely to occur and taking action in advance. For e.g. increasing server capacity in advance of launching an online sales campaign so that the increased volumes do not bring down the server. These actions also fall into the realm of proactive risk management, which then begs the question "why do we need a separate category called preventive actions?".

Many QA professionals have tied themselves up in knots trying to distinguish between "corrective" and "preventive" actions with creative distinctions like: it is considered corrective, if the action is taken in the same project in which the error occurred, but if it is taken for a new upcoming project, then it is considered preventive. Some professionals have taken a little more harsher view saying, if the action is in response to an error that has occurred in any part of the company, then it can only be considered corrective, and not preventive. Which means that the action has to be in response to an event in another company or to something which has never happened before!

Perhaps, in response to this lingering confusion, the ISO has dropped the term "preventive action" altogether from its 2015 version of the ISO 9001 standard. 

There could be situations where preventing the error or incident could be cost prohibitive and the result of a failure is not severe. For e.g. in the earlier example, if the cost of additional hardware is unlikely to be justified by the increase in sales, it might be a better idea to just bring the server up again, in case it fails, rather than spending money to prevent a failure. In this case, correction is a better option than prevention.

Another case where prevention could be unnecessary is when the probability of the incident is extremely low, For e.g. not many would spend money to build earthquake resistant buildings in a seismic zone 1 or 2 region. However, in this case, the individual or organization is accepting the risk of a building collapse. Correction is not a better option than prevention, in this case.

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CORRECTIONS: Action to eliminate the detected non conformity. It's taken immediately. 

It addresses to short term need.

For Example: In case of fire. It would be ludicrous to go for RCA. Once the initial correction is implemented,there is time to do RCA and implement corrective action and follow with verification of the effectiveness of the RCA.


CORRECTIVE ACTION: Action to eliminate the cause of a detected non conformity to prevent the recurrence of the non conformity.

It addresses to long term solution.

For Example: Administration of chemotherapeutic drug on hold as the transcription of the dosage was not correct.


PREVENTIVE ACTION: is avoiding the initial occurence of the non conformity by proactively implementing improvements.

It may result i.e from trending of a  process data, of analytical data, of audit findings, trending of root causes for non conformists or complaints. 

For Example: Double check prior to transcribing the chemotherapeutic drug.


Preventive action is taken to prevent occurrence whereas corrective action is taken to prevent recurrence.


There are instances whenin correction is required over corrective action and preventive action. We need to make sure to qualify the boundaries for issues requiring informal, formal, immediate or long term actions.

For Example: Maintenance department responsible for water testing and documenting of RO plant. Hospital staff admitting in the hospital due to consumption of water resulting in ill health. An immediate replacement of water prior to any further testing is done. A correction of issue is important.








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Correction, Corrective and preventive action


Correction - This is an action which is taken to eliminate a error or non conformance. It is kind of a first-aid kit and an instant action to reduce the impact of the error or the non conformance.


Corrective and Preventive Action are improvements to an organization's processes taken to eliminate causes of non-conformance or other undesirable situations.

CAPA is a concept within Manufacturing Practice, service, and numerous ISO business standards. It focuses on the systematic investigation of the root causes of identified problems or identified risks in an attempt to prevent their recurrence or to prevent occurrence.


Corrective actions are implemented in response to customer complaints, unacceptable levels of product non-conformance, issues identified during an internal audit, and process monitoring such as would be identified by Statistical Process Control. Preventive actions are implemented in response to the identification of potential sources of non-conformity. To ensure that corrective and preventive actions are effective, the systematic investigation of the root causes of failure is essential.


CAPA is a part of the overall Quality Management System to ensure correction of faulty transactions (corrective action) and making arrangements for the same to get prevented in occurrence for the future.


Example : Situation : Car Break Down in the middle of a Long Drive


Correction : Clean the spark Plug and once put back the engine starts.

Corrective Action : Keeping an extra spark plug from the next long drive onwards.


Preventive Action : Before the next long drive, owner must anticipate all kinds of risks associated with car breaking down, and shall have a preventive action for each of these.

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Correction: It is the step when you fix the thing that went wrong (the nonconformity) This is the immediate action to keep customers or management happy.


Eg: Putting out fire when fire accident happens immediately.


Corrective action: It is the step taken to prevent the reoccurrence by removing the causes of non-conformity.


 Eg: Analyzing what caused fire and how to prevent the fire after the occurrence.


Preventive action: It is to prevent the occurrence of potential nonconformities or undesirable actions. Preventive Action have to be identified and apply the preventive action, against the potential non-conformities, risks, defects or non-compliances.


Eg: Stopping fire from happening not only in that location but made applicable to similar locations and areas where the threat is more.



Are there situations where both preventive action and corrective action are undesirable and correction is the only  preferred action? 



Ideally in every situation of daily life or in work, corrective action and preventive actions are applicable and useful. The above sentence can be written in vise versa like correction of each and every situation may not be possible but we can apply corrective action and preventive actions to that. 


Eg., Natural disasters like volcano eruption, Cyclones, Tsunami etc creates a lot of disaster, in such situations we cannot correct the situation but we can take preventive and corrective actions to decrease the effect of calamities.



Situations where we only correct it and cannot prevent that leads to repetition of the situation again and again, which is not acceptable.

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INCIDENT: Customer returned food as it tasted funny

CORRECTION: Apologized to the customer and replaced food

ROOT CAUSE: Potatoes supplied by the vendor were stale

CORRECTIVE ACTION: (i) Quality checks while accepting potatoes (ii) 2nd party audits on potato vendor

PREVENTIVE ACTION: (i) Quality checks for other food materials (ii) 2nd party audits for other food vendors


In situations where repetitive errors are undesirable, I believe, corrective actions are mandatory and not undesirable. However, in situations where all possible controls are in place and any more controls would require unreasonable efforts and resources, corrective and preventive actions are undesirable.

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Correction: Correction is an immediate action taken to eliminate or remove a detected non-conformity. This may include repair, reworking, recall, replace, or scrapping of unsatisfactory items or products.

Corrective Action: Corrective Action is a reactive action taken to eliminate the root cause of a detected non-conformity or other undesirable situation so as to prevent its reoccurrence

Preventive Action: Preventive action is a proactive action taken to eliminate the cause of a potential non-conformity or other undesirable potential situation so as to prevent nonconformities from occurrence. For example, we may come to know that motherboard of a particular brand has been found to be of sub-standard quality. Preventive action would be to instruct our suppliers not to use this particular motherboard in the assembly. Similarly, advising customers to install anti-virus software, rejecting candidates who have been perpetual job-hoppers are examples of preventive actions.

Suppose a customer’s machine had a hard-disk failure during the warranty period. Replacing it with a new one is correction. On investigation of root cause, we may find that customer was not shutting down machine properly. Training the concerned customer on switching-off procedure is a corrective action, whereas training all other customers is preventive action.

Suppose there is a virus attack on X machine. Isolation of X machine from network & removal

Of virus is correction.  Identification of Root cause for virus attack is non installation of anti-virus software, so Installation of antivirus software on the machine is corrective action. Installation of anti-virus software on all machines is preventive action.

Correction and Corrective Action needs to be taken in all cases. Preventive Action  may be taken only after doing proper risk analysis ,judging the magnitude of the issue & cost, maybe also getting an approval for process change.

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Examples of Correction, Corrective Action and Preventive Actions

In a typical outsourcing organisation, when as part of a transaction being processed, a wrong entry has been made by an associate in a web form and this is identified in an internal audit, the transaction is not completed and dispatched, but is reverted back to the associate for action. The associate corrects the entry made and sends it back. This is the Correction that has been done.


At the end of the week, the error log for the week is compiled and this error is root-cause analysed. It is found out that this error occurred because the concerned associate had missed the recent update on the rules to be followed given by the Team Leader, who had of course received this from the Customer. Therefore, in order to ensure that this type of root cause does not cause errors again, a practice of recording the attendance of all team members in all these update and feedback sessions, against the full team list is implemented in multiple shifts as required. This reveals the names of the team members who have not attended the session. When these team members then return to work and log in to the application, they get a prompt, “Please get the last update from your Team leader”, without doing which they cannot log in and start working. Thus, all team members have to get the update, before working again. The SOP is updated with this additional control. This is the Corrective Action that has been implemented.


In the Monthly Review Meeting attended by all Business Heads, the summary with selective details of all errors and omissions are presented and reviewed by the Senior Management. This error and the actions taken are also discussed and it is agreed to extend this practice to all Business Lines and Customers. This is implemented with due support from the Internal Development team. The Central Documentation and all relevant Business Line level documentation are updated to ensure that this root cause does not have the opportunity to cause errors in other Business Lines. This is the Preventive Action that has been implemented.


Situations where both preventive action and corrective action are undesirable and correction is the only preferred action

A popular, if old-time saying on efficiency goes, “Nothing is more inefficient than doing efficiently, that which should not be done at all”. There could be situations in some processes in which some obviously non-value adding or for that matter waste steps are being done. These could typically be only temporary situations till a fix is being implemented that will eliminate these NVA / Waste steps altogether. If the fix is not very far away, and in the intervening period, an error occurs in one of these NVA / Waste steps, it may actually be a good idea to restrain actions to just corrections as the investments of time, effort and money in CAPA may not be justifiable as the environment or even the eco-system may undergo a complete change soon and there may not enough time to get a return on investment.


The same reasons stated above may be valid in not implementing CAPA when a core application is going to be upgraded to a higher version or be replaced by an entirely new technology.


Yet again, there could be errors associated with a specific location or work station, which precludes any CAPA as the process could be moved to a different location or the work station could be shifted elsewhere and so on.


Further, in this age of instant Mergers and Acquisitions, in an organisation that is being swallowed by a larger one, as a result of which, the smaller organisation may cease to exist altogether or a product or an entire line of products may be discontinued. In such situations too, CAPA may be superfluous.


To push the envelope open further, when some CAPA relates to a staff, who is going to attrite shortly, it may not be worthwhile to plan and implement CAPA.

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Correction action

Action taken for detected non conformity owr any undesired event.by further analysis of rootcause and to see that it doesnot re occure again.its basically for past event .


Preventive action 

Action taken for pontential cause that can happen in future . This event has not caused.its for preventing the issues that can raise in future.

Eg My computer is dead .so i called the technician.he started to root cause the problem and found that its was due to the loose connection i.e some screws attached to the mother board is loosened so he fixed the issue by tighned the screws.this is a case of corrective action.


He furthers checks all the remaning ten computers so that such problems must not raise in future.this is a case of preventive action where potential causes for occurence is taken care.





He further check

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Corrective Action

Preventive Action

It is the action taken to eliminate a detected defect/ nonconformity.


Corrective action is taken to eliminate the cause of the detected defect/ nonconformity.


Preventive Action is taken to prevent the occurrence of any potential defects/nonconformities.

It is an immediate action like replacing the product or editing a document to make the customer happy.


This is a follow up action / reaction once the nonconformity is detected. It requires some strategic thinking and is aimed at preventing the recurrence of the defect/nonconformity.

This is proactive action done before the defect/non-conformity occurs. These are improvements in the system to ensure detrimental system gaps are addressed and fixed before a nonconformity occurs.


It is done in response to a Customer complain.

It is done after a thorough Root cause analysis of a customer complain or other QC observations. It is a 5-step process:

1.       Identify the Defect/Nonconformity

2.       Immediate Correction to fix the problem

3.       Root cause analysis to identify the process/ the cause of defect.

4.       Modify the quality system so that the process that caused non-conformity is monitored to prevent the recurrence

5.       Review of the corrective action to ensure that the recurrence has been prevented  


It is like a Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) or risk management initiative. It involves the following steps:

1.       Identify potential problems or non-conformances

2.       Find the cause of the potential problem/non-conformance

3.       Develop a plan to prevent the occurrence

4.       Implement the plan

5.       Review the actions taken and the effectiveness in preventing the problem




Say an automobile dealer receives customer complaints for couple of new cars delivered in the lot regarding oil leakage beneath the car, then the cars can be examined and corrected by the dealer in the workshop.


These are isolated cases and are low risk in nature. So, Corrections may be adequate.


But if the dealer receives multiple similar complains then a correction may not be adequate and the manufacturer might need to be informed for a corrective action.



Say the same dealer receives complaints of the new car engines getting overheated. 

The dealer may root cause the issue.

The RCA may indicate that the overheating was caused by defective coolant tubing causing the coolant to leak, thus overheating the engine. The dealer may fix the car (Correction), but there are high chances that an entire lot of cars might have the same defective tubing and see similar problems sooner or later.


An overheated engine could cause the engine to catch fire. This is a high-risk problem and the dealer  informs the manufacturer. 


Multiple dealers might bring the same issue to the attention of the manufacturer.


In this case,  the manufacturer may decide on corrective actions to recall the entire lot manufactured (using a specific lot of coolant tubing) and get then fixed at the dealers' workshop.


Subsequently, back at the manufacturer's assembly line the tubing of new cars would be rechecked and assembled cars would undergo further quality checks for the specific issue.

Any defective tubing in

stock would be rejected.


All these actions taken would be monitored to prevent any defective tubing from going back into the assembly line and thus prevent recurrence.




For the same example under Corrective actions, the preventive actions could be as follow:


The manufacturer might prescribe,  to tubing supplier, special quality tests for the tubing and request  Quality test document.

If supplier is unable to oblige, then the manufacturer might find alternate sources.


The manufacturer may establish comprehensive testing scenarios for performance and quality check.


The manufacturer may install additional alarms to detect coolant leak. 





These are jointly known as CAPA (Corrective Action/ Preventive Action) In certain markets and industries, CAPA may be required as part of the quality management system, such as the Medical Devices and Pharmaceutical industries. Failure to adhere to proper CAPA handling is considered a violation of regulations on good manufacturing practices.


Situations where both preventive action and corrective action are undesirable and correction is the only preferred action:


If an identified defect/nonconformity is an isolated/ one-off incident and is low risk to business and customers then it is better and adequate to use Correction as a remedy.

In such cases, investing time and resources for understanding the root cause is not a value-added activity.

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Correction is nothing but action taken to eliminate errors or nonconfirmity during a process. Correction is done during on going process. 

Example: error detected while generating invoices like name error, amount deduction error. These type of rework which are done before reaching to end customers are termed as correction 


Corrective action is taken on the defect which occured at end customer. Before taking corrective action root cause analysis is done through various methods such as brainstorming which is done to list out all criticle X's, then various analysis is done on the probable causes using 5-why analysis to get the appropriate root cause. 

Corrective actions are taken only on that particular root cause

It is taken to prevent recurrence of the defect

Eg. An automated machine which tightens screw to an automotive part always gives a defect of less torque at certain period. The problem was generated ar customer end

After root cause analysis it was known that due to variation of pneumatic  pressue the problem occurs. 

CORRECTIVE ACTION: implemented pressure check poka yoke which will stop the machine operations if any pressure drop occurs than the required level.


preventive actions are proactive actions. It is similar to FMEA. The set of probable failure or defect matrix list is generated and based on that actions are taken before the problem occurs. 

Eg. During a long intercity trip in car, before the start of journey checking of tyre pressue, fuel, engine oil , coolant level etc are called preventive action. If not taken these problem may occure in the middle of journey and may spoil the entire trip. 


There are some instances where preventive and corrective actions both fails. We have to for corrections only. 

Eg. Before starting a trip tyre pressue is checked and found OK

 During the trip all of a sudden less pressure is detected byvthe driver due to small puncture inside tyre. 

CORRECTION: park the vehicle at a safer place and replace the punctured tyre with the spare tyre. 


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In a stable process, Variation from the mean is treated based on the severity and the magnitude of the data point. Three major modes/activities used to contain/control the deviation within the process.


Correction is deployed when the error has occurred and it has to be contained immediately. The “patch” that is used should fix the error.  

For instance,

1)     A call center agent missing on asking the name of the customer over the call. He corrects himself immediately and the customer wouldn’t bother.

2)     The confectionery manufacturer correcting the design of the product to enhance the experience of the customer. The error otherwise is unnoticed by the buyer.


Corrective action is the elimination of the root cause to avoid recurrence of the event. The action will help to ensure that the error is not repeated within the process. Thorough RCA should identify the interactions of the system and make the corrective action more effective.

For instance,

1)     A project deviating from a task. Assuming the business impact being moderate, the corrective action should involve proper situation appraisal, IS/IS NOT analysis and identify the environment causing the fault.

2)     On a typical busy day at a hotel reception, the delay in responding to the customer’s query needs a look into. Assuming the dissatisfaction was handled well, manager’s role is to ensure that the situation is not repeated. Hence, the day, the time, the type and other critical factors are to be investigated.


Preventive action is the elimination or mitigation of the potential problem identified from a learning elsewhere or within. Replacement, Detection, Facilitation and Prevention are the other principles to be considered depending on the change intended.

For instance,

1)     Cars recalled for the fault identified during one of the correction. Based on the corrective action implemented for the batch which has this release, the preventive actions are thought over for future potential failures. 

2)     Medical negligence encountered at a hospital are usually quite critical. The failures are to be prevented with proper standards and controls. Regular monitoring of the records and understanding of the variations should prompt one to undertake mistake proofing. 



Corrections are made when the variation is within the control limits and the customer is un-fluttered as its inherent in the product. Common causes should be the reason for the error resulting as minor to nil business impact. Issue tracker and Change management should help most of the corrections.

Corrective Action and Preventive Action (CAPA) on the other hand is considered to be initiated when the impact is of larger scale to customer satisfaction, the risk factor with business, suppliers and clients and to the process which needs continuous improvement and is deprived of it. Special causes which are a threat to the control and specification limits are to be avoided with changes in design and the processes.



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Correction - It is an action wherein a nonconformity in a process or defect in a product or service is simply corrected. It is an immediate action to reduce the impact of the defect or nonconformity. For example if there is fire then we pour water on it or use the fire extinguisher to put off the fire. In case there is mistake in the invoice sent to the client, we simply strike off and correct the mistake. In case the screen of a TV delivered to the client is broken during delivery due to faulty packaging, the customer is unhappy and we simply replace the TV or the broken screen.


Corrective action - It is an action taken to analyse the cause which has resulted in occurrence of the nonconformity and ensure that the non conformity or the defect does not recur. Often a root cause analysis is done to understand the cause of defect and improvement actions put in place to avoid recurrence of the defect. For example, in case of fire, the root cause of why fire happened is analysed; whether there was any inflammable material around, what was the source of spark etc.  Corrective action can be taken to ensure the inflammable material is removed, source of spark is eliminated etc. In case of a broken TV, packaging, transportation system, handling is improved so that the screen does not break in transit again.


Preventive action - These are steps taken to ensure avoidance of potential defect or potential nonconformity. These are more of proactive actions to ensure any kind of undesirable situation is avoided. For example, all actions which can lead to fire will be well thought off and people will be guided to avoid any fire. Like putting No Smoking sign boards, having confined areas for storing inflammable material, training the relevant staff etc. In case of delivering TV, preventive action will ensure against not only screen breaking but to protect from any kind of defect occurrence.   


Making procedures and systems for corrective and preventive actions has certain cost implications associated with it. In situations where the nonconformity or a defect is a one off incident or is a low risk wherein the cost of correction would be insignificant as compared to the cost of corrective or preventive actions, we can prefer to go in for correction rather than corrective or preventive actions. 

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Whenever a problem occurs, need to look into various aspects several aspects
1) identify the magnitude of the problem.
2) identify how to prevent it from getting bigger.
3) How to address current situation.
We can also termed as control the Damage. Although correction steps to correct the problem it has no bearing on cause.
Corrective action
A process resulted non conformances output on customer specifications. The actions taken against non conformances is corrective action. Corrective actions are reactive actions
A corrective action plan is a strategy for correcting or eliminating a problem that has already occurred or been identified .
Preventive action
Identify the possible non conformances during the process execution can be termed as preventive action. These action signals whenever process is about result non conformances. Preventive actions are proactive actions.

Example scenario : A customer orders 500 parts, but only 450 are delivered.
Correction – Fix the current issue. Get the customer 50 more parts
Corrective Action – Why were we short?. Operator miscounted 9 boxes of 50 as 10 boxes of 50
Preventive Action – make sure it doesn’t happen again. Weigh products on scale so you know if quantity is met.
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Q. While correction is generally unavoidable, corrective actions and preventive actions are mostly optional. Describe the three terms with suitable example(s)?


Correction, is immediate fixation of the problem when something went wrong. It is fixing the nonconformity with immediate action which in turn keeps the customers or management happy. Correction is like first aid.


Corrective action, is considered as something done to prevent recurrence, basically to ensure that the nonconformity never happens again. To do so it requires some strategic thinking and is always crucial to first identify the causes of nonconformities before implementing a Corrective Action. It is like Problem Solving.


Preventive Action, on the other hand, is to prevent the occurrence of potential nonconformities. Basically, it means that nothing bad actually happened. It is an improvement method in system to ensure that the potential gaps are addressed before any nonconformity occurs. It is proactive improvement method.



You go for long drive on a bike and your bike breaks down in the middle of journey. The issue is that spark plug is full of carbon and cause was that servicing for the bike was not done for past 6 months or 10000km whichever is earlier. The other issue is you do not have an extra spark plug.


Correction: Take out the spark plug and clean it. Put it back, Bike starts.


Corrective Action: From next time onwards you keep extra spark plug. 


Prevention: Before going to long drive, anticipate the possible causes and situations if anything can go wrong and how it can be avoided.


Q. Are there situations where both preventive action and corrective action are undesirable and correction is the only  preferred action? 


Yes, there are sometimes situations where only correction is preferred action, like as below examples:


Skipped stitching in sewing a garment.

Needle break during stitching

Unbalanced tension resulting in uneven stitches. Which would need immediate correct tension adjustment to resolve the issue.

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The overall discussion is captured in the table below. 


There are situations ofcourse ( examples in table as well) when correction becomes the most preferred option compared to corrective or preventive measures. A specific example would be the case when a implanted pacemaker is not accepted by a patient's body and treats it as a foreign element resulting in severe health deterioration. Certainly an urgent correction ( replacement) is warranted here and not a corrective or preventive one as the cost("the life") for a FTA would be too high from the patient's perspective. 


In another scenario if a sensor on a in-journey spaceship stops working due to unpredictable solar storm disturbance, correction ( recalculating analysis/ decision by correlating with other sensor data)is the most preferred option as the cost of preventive actions would be too high.



  Correction Corrective Action Preventive Action
What is it? Action to eliminate a DETECTED nonconformity Action to eliminate the cause of a DETECTED nonconformity Action to eliminate the cause of a POTENTIAL nonconformity
Approach Correction is done using the following approach-
o Determine the magnitude of the problem.
o Determine how to prevent it from getting bigger.
o How to address current situation.
Corrective action  takes steps to correct the detected nonconformity by fixing the specific cause. The approach is as follows-
o What’s the chance it will happen again?
o Estimate of any future threat
Need to assess the risk and mitigate it based upon severity. The following tools are helpful:
o Checklists
o FMEA – Failure mode & effects analysis
o Hazard and operability analysis (HAZOP)
o Fault tree analysis (FTA)
When Best o High Impact and high urgency,
o  Cost of corrective or preventive actions is high,
o isolated event
o Event repetitive in nature,
o Cost to implement corrective action is viable
o Just correction is not sufficient,
o Causes known and other potential failures are unidentified
o Correction or corrective action is not sufficient
o High impact risks involved that needs proactive risk control
o Complete risk model of the process is known
o Cost for implementation is viable
Examples Isolated events e.g.-
- natural disasters which cannot be controlled
-event due to sudden political scenario change, includes wars etc
-pure human mistake which cannot be prevented/controlled
Potentially repetitive known events can be fixed by corrective actions e.g.-
- single point of failures fixed by back up links
-process guidance like visual workflow diagrams/ check lists 

When complete FTA or FMEA of the process is done, preventive actions can be implemented e.g.-
- automated safety check mechanism
-live capacity utilization dashboard for trend analysis that leads to preventive actions

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Correction is the action taken to rectify the error. Corrective action is what is taken to rectify the cause of the error. Preventive action, on the other hand, is the action taken to prevent the cause by looking at the problem holistically.


Correction: In an academic setting, a student score recorded wrongly by an academic assistant warrants correction

Corrective Action:  Time is to be invested in a Corrective action if all possibilities of an error or a non-conformity being a one-time instance have been eliminated. For instance, if it has been confirmed that there are possibilities for erroneous entries in the future one may seek the answer to the question "What can be done to ensure that scores are recorded correctly?". 2-level checks into the entry before the results are declared by the Examination cell is a corrective action. An automated system that validates the numbers that are entered or pops up a check question about the entry are all corrective actions. 

Preventive action: Consider the following question

                               "Why was there an error in the score entry by the assistant ?". 

                                           Was there a lack of proper instructions given? 

                                           Was the time crunch during the time of data entry?

                                           Were there too many interruptions while the data entry was happening?

                                           Was the Academic Assistant multi-tasking during the time of data entry?

                                           Is the work condition conducive for the job given?

                                           Are there consequences for making such errors - Penalizing the operator/ Incentives for error-free data entry?

  Creating an environment that facilitates/encourages error-free data entry is preventive action


In situations which are one of a kind - Special Cause: For example, in the academic setting a student who may have missed the exam due to illness is a non-conformity towards 100% attendance but is beyond the control of the process. Preventive and Corrective actions may not help in here..... A re-exam is the correction that can be put in place.  

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Part A) Correction means rectifying/correcting things which have gone wrong; just like quenching the fire. It is not only desirable but indispensable to perform correction to start the system. Correction has to be done immediately or depending upon the allowed TAT by system/customer.

Correction’s examples –

  1. Correcting the mistake by rectification by doing re-work / readjustment / re-setting / re-assembly
  2. Replacing the faulty part and re-staring the machine again
  3. Stopping and plugging the leakage of tank and filling up the liquid again in the tank
  4. Replacing the bearing with same type of bearing


Part B.... Corrective Action (CA) means finding out the root cause of problem which has happened and taking action on it, so that problem will not repeat again in future. Corrective action is taken after issue/problem happens. It is desirable to perform Corrective actions but it depends upon the cost / life stage of system (age) / complications / knowledge availability / customer preference etc. Organization can take a call whether to go for CA or only depend on corrections, depending upon cost-benefit analysis.

Corrective Action’s Example –

  1. Mistakes happen due to usage of wrong tool being used, then Corrective action would be to define the specifications of correct tool, give right tools, train operators on right tool, modify the SOP, if costs & customers permit
  2. Like What caused fire & eliminate that cause from system, if costs & customers permit
  3. If low lubrication caused the bearing failure, then replace the bearing with self-lubricating bearings, if costs & customers permit


Part C) Preventive Action means finding out the potential cause of the problem before occurrence and taking action on cause to eliminate it from system, so that problem wont occur at first place. It is absolutely desirable and it is ideal to assess; plan & perform preventive actions before problem occurs but it comes with cost, so depending upon the costs involved / complications / knowledge availability / customer preference etc organization can take a call whether to go for PA or only depend on corrective actions / Corrections in later stage of product life cycle.


Preventive Action’s Example –

  1. Doing Process-FMEA of assembly line and taking actions on those RPN causes which crosses predefined criteria of RPN (say RPN>100) (e.g using torque controlled battery operator tools instead of hand tools) , if costs & customers permit
  2. Doing Design-FMEA and modifying the design so that potential causes does not affect design performance (e.g using male-female notches to match the sheet metal parts being welded for achieving perfect geometry of final welded assembly) , if costs & customers permit


Part D) Are there situations where both preventive action and corrective action are undesirable and correction is the only preferred action? 

Yes; there are situations where cost of CA and PA is huge or CAPA completion timeline is so high that it will dissatisfy the customer; wise a wise cost and time of correction is relatively less and customer is OK with correction instead of CAPA then in that situation it is desirable to go with only correction.

For example –

1) Replacing blown off fuse (correction) would be the only cost effective and fast option, customer would be very happy to go with it, instead of changing/modifying the whole circuit for eliminating high current (CA) or to redesign the entire system (PA) to prevent load variation / high drawn current in the system.

 2) Replacing wheel tyre due to normal wear or tear is desirable/preferred action (its Correction); instead of replacing that tyre after normal wear with very superior rubber (its CA, wear/tear is cause) which does not wear out  (it has very high cost), as well as it is also not desirable to design a car in first place with a very special & sensitive suspension coupled with non-wearable tyre material (Its PA) (it will also have very very high cost and customer may not be able to pay for it)

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Correction - Corrective action - Preventive action

There is certainly some relationship between Correction, Corrective Action & Preventive Action. 

Let us start with Corrective & Preventive action. 

Corrective actions are those actions which are taken when there is already something which has gone incorrect & identified the causes. The identification can be done by using tools such as Root cause analysis, etc. This action generally is reactive in nature. Once the incorrectness or mistakes are identified or seen, the actions will be taken to rectify the mistakes or to correct the mistakes.


For example –  A Machine operator not using ear plugs while operating the machine who is working at the machine that actually makes a lot of noise/sound. As per the compliance it is not acceptable that the machine operators standing/working near such machines are not using ear plugs as that causes problems with hearing. 

Here is the mistake. This kind of mistakes will be corrected by making corrective actions or corrective action plan. Corrective actions can be stricter in nature, can also end up with penalties or punishments.

Preventive actions are those actions which will be ensured even before an event occurs. This is Proactive in nature. This is done to avoid the possible mistakes/errors. This is done based on a detailed analysis of a potential mistake that could occur.


For example – In the above example, the preventive action could be that the ear plug is issued to every operator in the beginning of each shift & ensure that the operators are using it by frequent checks. 

The Preventive action plan generally contains heading such as Action steps, Responsible person/persons/, Start date, deadline date, review, remarks. This pattern can also change based on individual requirement & situation.   

The above action plan format can also be used for Corrective Action Plan. 

What is correction? Is correction the only preferred action? 

Correction is an action of correcting something. 

Example- The price of an item printed wrong on the wrapper. This needs a correction.  In this situation, correction is the only preferred action that we could take. But of-course, it leads to corrective & preventive action plan to avoid such mistakes in the future. 


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A correction is any action that is taken to eliminate errors.

Corrective actions are steps that are taken to remove the causes of an existing errors or undesirable situation.

Preventive actions are steps that are taken to remove the causes of potential errors or potential situations that are undesirable.

Repairing of any machine on a production line which has given error is correction.
Timely maintenance of machine in regular basis is preventive action.

Replacement of a machine that has a high error rate is corrective action.

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It is providing a fix or a solution for a defect or non-conformance. It can be either a workaround solution / temporary solution for an existing defect/non-conformance.  More often than not, this could be an immediate action required to address the issue.


Eg:  Sometimes a critical application (say in production or in test environment or User Advanced Testing(UAT) environment) might not reflect the new changes when re-deployed again. It could be because the application can still point to old files/code,  probably say, due to server caching the old files. Now to make matters worse, if this has got severe impact, then this needs to be addressed immediately.  To correct this immediately, a Server restart could be needed to clear cache memory issues


Corrective Action: 

It provides a permanent solution to fix.  It normally provides a sequence of processing steps to correct the non-conformance issue.  Root cause analysis tools such as Fishbone diagram, Paretto chart can help analyse the issues and then accordingly the corrective action steps can be defined.


Eg:  Considering the same example of a critical application (say in production) not reflecting the changes made. So as temporary measure, we restarted the server and provided a quick fix.  Now everytime when we face this issue (Whenever new functionality is added/changes are made into the application), we cannot restart the server at every time.


As a result, we need to provide a permanent fix. So one way to provide a fix is to add a time-stamped value to the existing file(s) which have the new functionalities/changes covered and the server automatically picking the time-stamped changed files and ensure it uses the latest file(s) for the application, when the application is redeployed on the server.  


With this fix, this specific issue of cache memory may not occur. There may be multiple ways to fix this issue and this is one approach. But the objective is to have this issue permanently resolved.

However again, this corrective action may not be suffice.  The whole issue is about the new functionalities not visible in the application. So what else can stop these functionalities from being visible. So there could be multiple areas/failure points that need to be addressed or taken into consideration.  This is where preventive action comes into play


Preventive Action


It helps in providing series of steps or checklists, using which we can prevent the occurrence of similar kind of defect/non-conformance issues.  Usage of tools such as Design FMEA process, Pugh Matrix (for optimal solution), Known Error DataBase (KEDB-knowledge repository), pattern analysis, trend analysis........can lend value to this. 


Eg:  Every now and then we add new functionalities to the critical application, as it keeps growing. The chance of application not having new functionalities would become more. So to avoid facing issues before they arise, we create a checklist and where we anticipate changes in the code or need design changes, we make it ready before it happens  


Let us also see some more examples as how these 3 – Correction, Corrective Action and Predictive Action wok in a typical IT support.



In a Support environment, an application or a functionality may not be available. A severity 1 incident might be fixed which requires an immediate fix/solution to be applied. Such a solution provided is a Correction to the issue of non-conformance


Corrective Action: 

When the application/functionality is not available or down, frequently, then we try to provide a permanent fix by creating a Problem Record (reactive Problem Management).  The permanent fix (solution) might take some time and then would ensure that the issues are not repeated again.  Tools like KEDB can be used to track similar incidents and a common solution can be arrived at.


Preventive Action:                                                                                                                                                                                   

By identifying the incident patterns/incident trends, we can find potential blocks related to the situations / scenarios as when the application/functionality can go down. Accordingly corresponding code changes/design changes can be down.  This is Proactive Problem Management. Tools like Kepner-Tregoe can be used for proactive problem management


Are there situations where both preventive action and corrective action are undesirable and correction is the only  preferred action? 


There can be scenarios where this can happen though in very rare circumstances and can depend with the type of business and the kind of service that organisations want to provide their to their customers . Providing one such instance here


      a).  When there is an instant fix to be done immediately because of a severe impact caused by a defect, then Correction is the only option.  If the corrective action takes time to implement, because there could be a considerable code change or design change, then Senior management  / key stakeholders would not like to wait as till such time, the issue would keep on occurring. So that may result in unhappy customers. There may not be even a preventive action if the corrective action is the only way to prevent it (Say for example if it needs design change to prevent re-occurrence). So as a result, the Correction, which would be a temporary fix predominantly might be used in order to avoid the issue.


Say for instance, the correction , could be restart of a server or a bring up an application to live on a daily basis  (may be that will make the application down for few minutes – but its still better than when we try to make a corrective action – for which the solution will take time and for this the business  impact/customer expectation will be more on the negative side). Hence in this case,  Correction is preferred over Corrective and Preventive Action

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