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An Sentinel Event is defined as an unintended or unexpected event, related to the quality of care, which caused death or serious harm to a patient. Healthcare organizations must analyze the Sentinel Events through incident analysis to find the root cause or causes and develop recommendations for interventions that prevent or reduce reoccurrence of the Sentinel Event

Preventable medical errors threaten patient safety and are all too common in hospitals throughout the world.

These errors-the most severe of which are called sentinel events, the less severe, adverse events-are not limited to lower quality organizations; excellent healthcare organizations can and do experience undesirable events. What separates excellent quality organizations from lesser ones is whether they respond to sentinel and adverse events in a way that significantly reduces the risk of the event occurring in the future. By conducting intensive system analysis, revising processes found to cause or contribute to these events, and monitoring the effectiveness of any changes, quality hospitals create a safer patient environment following an undesirable event.

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