The Joint Commission has updated its Sentinel Event statistics through March 31, 2012 and published four related presentations, including general information on Sentinel Event data, root causes by event type, event type by year, and a summary of Sentinel Event data.
Since the Joint Commission implemented its Sentinel Event database in January 1995, the organization, through Q1 2012, has reviewed a total of 8,859 Sentinel Events, and issued 48 Sentinel Event Alerts. The latest Sentinel Event Alert, focusing on health care worker fatigue and its potential effect on patient safety, was issued in December 2011.
The Joint Commission has determined that Sentinel Events reviewed since 2004 have resulted in 3,859 patient deaths and impacted 6,383 patients, including unanticipated additional care, extended care, and psychological Impact.
Sentinel Events are divided into 27 specific categories, with a 28th category that includes the remaining ‘other unanticipated event[s].’ In Q1 2012, The Joint Commission reviewed 225 Sentinel Events, with the most reviewed event being ‘Unintended Retention of a Foreign Body’ (42), followed by ‘Delay in Treatment’ (33), then ‘Wrong-Site, Wrong-Patient, Wrong-Procedure’ events(27).
In 2011, ‘Perinatal Death or Injury,’ the ninth most reviewed event in 2010, and the tenth most reviewed event in 2009, was removed from the top ten most reviewed Sentinel Event list, and replaced at number ten by ‘Medical Equipment-Related’ events. ‘Medical Equipment-Related’ events had been the eleventh most reviewed Sentinel Event in 2010. In Q1 2012, there were six ‘Perinatal Death or Injury’ events and two ‘Medical Equipment-Related’ events reviewed.
Sentinel Event Data Summary (as of March 31, 2012)
“This sentinel event-related data, reported to The Joint Commission from our accredited organizations, demonstrates the need of the Joint Commission and accredited health care organizations to continue to address these serious adverse events. This data also supports the importance of establishing National Patient Safety Goals and focusing our energies on addressing serious errors within health care organizations. By identifying causes, trends, settings and outcomes of sentinel events, The Joint Commission can provide critical information in the prevention of sentinel events to accredited health care organizations and the public.”
[The Sentinel Event Data Summary] Includes:
- Type of Sentinel Event
- Settings of Sentinel Events
- Sources for SE Identification
- Sentinel Event Outcomes
- Self-reported Sentinel Events by Year
- Method for Review of HCO Response to Sentinel Event
Sentinel Event Data – General Information (1995 – Q1 2012)
“The reporting of most sentinel events to The Joint Commission is voluntary and represents only a small proportion of actual events.Therefore, these data are not an epidemiologic data set and no conclusions should be drawn about the actual relative frequency of events or trends in events over time.”
Sentinel Event Data – Event Type By Year (1995 – Q1 2012)
Sentinel Event Data – Root Causes By Event Type (2004 – Q1 2012)