Serious adverse events (previously known as serious and sentinel events) are events which have generally resulted in harm to patients.
A serious adverse event is one which has led to significant additional treatment, is life threatening or has led to an unexpected death or major loss of function.
District health board (DHB) providers are required to review these events and report them to the Commission. The national reportable event policy includes a standardised form, known as a Reportable Event Brief (REB), which is used as a basis for reporting events and advising the Commission of the outcome of the review.
For the first time in 2012–13, the serious adverse event report includes incidents that have taken place outside DHB hospitals. This is an important step towards integrating the wider health and disability sector into the Commission's programme to prevent harm from serious adverse events.
The Commission is required to produce a report on serious adverse events each year, based on information provided by DHBs.