Joint Commission Updates Sentinel Event Statistics

Matt Phillion, May 7, 2010

The Joint Commission has announced an official update to its ongoing tracking of sentinel event statistics.

The Joint Commission has investigated 6,782 of the sentinel events reported from January 1995 through March 31, 2010. A total of 6,920 patients have been affected by sentinel events during that time frame, with 67%—4,642 patients—resulting in patient death, the accrediting organization says in its official statement. (More information directly from The Joint Commission can be viewed on its official Web site.

The top ten most frequently reported were:

  • Wrong site surgery
  • Suicide
  • Operative/post-operative complication
  • Delay in treatment
  • Medical error
  • Patient fall
  • Unintended retention of foreign body
  • Assault, rape, or homicide
  • Perinatal death or loss of function
  • Patient death or injury in restraints

The Joint Commission is also seeking out additional feedback from those who have been directly effected by a sentinel event in the past, posting a survey on its Web site (also available through the link above).

Matt Phillion Matt Phillion, CSHA, is senior managing editor of Briefings on The Joint Commission and senior editorial advisor for the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals (AHAP).
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