Serious and sentinel events are events which have generally resulted in harm to patients.
A serious event is one which has led to significant additional treatment and a sentinel event is life threatening or has led to an unexpected death or major loss of function. Falls were the most commonly reported serious and sentinel events in hospitals in 2009/10.
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.
The Commission is required to produce a report on serious and sentinel events each year, based on information provided by DHBs.