On March 13, 2019, The Joint Commission released Sentinel Event statistics for 2018. There were 801 sentinel events in 2018, with 87% being voluntarily self-reported. According to the Joint Commission, it is estimated that less than 2 percent of all sentinel events are reported. The Joint Commission defines a sentinel event as:
Any unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical and psychological injury, or the risk thereof. Serious injuries specifically include a loss of limb or function. The phrase “or the risk thereof” includes any process variation for which a recurrence would carry a significant chance of a serious adverse outcome.
An accredited organization is not required to self-report a sentinel event, but there is no distinction in expected responses, time frames, or review procedures the organization should undertake when a sentinel event occurs. In the case of a sentinel event, The Joint Commission requires accredited organizations to “conduct a timely, thorough and credible root cause analysis; develop at action plan designed to implement improvements to reduce risk; implement the improvements; and monitor the effectiveness of those improvements.”
Norton Rose Fulbright professionals are available to provide additional information regarding compliance with The Joint Commission accreditation requirements.