The Joint Commission adopted a formal Sentinel Event Policy in 1996 to help hospitals that experience serious adverse events improve safety and learn from those sentinel events. Careful investigation and analysis of Patient Safety Events (events not primarily related to the natural course of the patient’s illness or underlying condition), as well as evaluation of corrective actions, is essential to reduce risk and prevent patient harm. The Sentinel Event Policy explains how The Joint Commission partners with health care organizations that have experienced a serious patient safety event to protect the patient, improve systems, and prevent further harm.
A sentinel event is a Patient Safety Event (not primarily related to the natural course of the patient’s illness or underlying condition), that reaches a patient and results in any of the following:
- Permanent harm
- Severe temporary harm and intervention required to sustain life
An event can also be considered sentinel event even if the outcome was not death, permanent harm, severe temporary harm.
For more information see Sentinel Event Policy and Procedures or call the Sentinel Event Hotline, 630-792-3700.