Most Common Sentinel Events of 2018

The Joint Commission released its report on the top sentinel events of 2018 and, unsurprisingly, patient falls and “unintended retention of a foreign body” took the top spot for another year. According to the Joint Commission, a sentinel event is “an unexpected event in a healthcare setting that results in death or serious injury to a patient.” While the overall number of sentinel events has declined in the last decade, some hospitals have seen a sharp increase.

Overall, these are the top ten sentinel events recorded in 2018 followed by the number of events self-reported to The Joint Commission:

  1. Falls (111)
  2. Unintended retention of a foreign body (111)
  3. Wrong-site surgery (94)
  4. Unassigned (68)
  5. Other unanticipated event (59)
  6. Suicide (50)
  7. Delay in treatment (43)
  8. Product or device events (29)
  9. Criminal event (28)
  10. Medication error (24)

According to report, less than 2 percent of sentinel events in the country are reported to The Joint Commission. Therefore, the data represents a self-reported sample and the number of these events is undoubtedly much higher across the country.