Joint Commission: 10 most common sentinel events of 2016

The 10 most common sentinel events reviewed by the Joint Commission did not change much from 2015 to 2016 — only dialysis-related events and perinatal death/injury fell off the list completely, and medication errors and criminal events took their places.


The Joint Commission did review fewer sentinel events in 2016 than 2015 — 824 last year compared to 936 in 2015.

Unintended retention of a foreign body remained the most common patient harm event that occurred in hospitals, ambulatory care settings and other care locations for the third year running, according to the Joint Commission's sentinel event data summary released earlier this month.

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The top 10 sentinel events that occurred in 2016 are as follows:

1. Unintended retention of a foreign body — 120 reported

2. Wrong-patient, wrong-site, wrong-procedure — 104

3. Fall — 92

4. Suicide — 87

5. Unassigned (category unassigned at time of report) — 70

6. Delay in treatment — 54

7. Other unanticipated event (including asphyxiation, burn, choked on food, drowned or found unresponsive) — 47

8. Operative/post-operative complication — 45

9. Medication error — 33

10. Criminal event — 32

See the full list from 2015 here.

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