You have asked a question on which there are almost as many opinions as there are auditors...
For a start, look at this discussion in the Continuous Improvement section: http://Elsmar.com/ubb/Forum32/HTML/000027.html
The calibration lab I am working with had the same problems when getting ready for our registration. As for documenting, we handle them just about the same as corrective actions. The only real difference is that instead of correcting a past problem and fixing its cause, we are trying to prevent a potential future problem.
The really hard part for us is deciding what is actually a preventive action and what is simply a process improvement. For instance, late last year we started using a computer-based calibration record-keeping and management system. We decided that was a process improvement in that it made our internal processes more efficient. Some months later we decided to get an additional specialty printer for the system, to gain the capability to print calibration labels from the system data instead of hand-writing them. We decided that
is a Preventive Action because it eliminates the possibilty that the date on the label is different from the date in our computer records. It had not yet been a problem for us, but we knew it had been a problem for other similar organizations.
[This message has been edited by Graeme (edited 22 August 2001).]