Health services must report the most serious cases of patient harm and death caused by adverse patient safety events, and make sure they’re properly reviewed. SCV also follows up with health services to check they’ve acted to help prevent further harm.
Find out about preparing for a review
What do you have to report?
You must report adverse patient safety events that result in serious harm or death of a patient while in the care of a health service. Serious harm is considered to have occurred when, as a result of the incident, the patient has:
- needed life-saving surgical or medical intervention
- a shortened life expectancy
- experienced permanent or long-term physical harm, or permanent or long-term loss of function.
Update: Healthcare-acquired COVID-19 sentinel events
If COVID-19 is acquired in a healthcare setting and it causes serious harm or the death of a patient, these events should be reviewed internally using the Rapid adverse event review tool – COVID-19 related deaths occurring in health services.
If a health service identifies a cluster of events (more than one), it’s recommended they email the Sentinel Events Program to discuss the notification.
Who needs to report?
All public and private health services, and all services under their governance structures must report sentinel events. Examples of health services include:
- Ambulance Victoria
- bush nursing centres
- first aid services
- Forensicare (Thomas Embling Hospital)
- non-emergency patient transport
- public sector residential aged care facilities
- hospital-in-the-home services
- private day surgery facilities.
Unsure if you need to report?
Report a sentinel event
Follow our five-step process to report and review a sentinel event, and implement your recommendations.
If the adverse event doesn't classify as a sentinel event, we recommend you still undertake a review. Read our guide on reviewing adverse events that aren’t sentinel events
Why reporting sentinel events is important
Watch this interview with Alfred Health's Rural Urgent Care Nursing Capability Development Program, where SCV's Joanne Miller talks about the importance of reporting and learning from sentinel events.
What do we do with this information?
Every sentinel event is an opportunity to learn and get better – not just at an individual health service, but across the healthcare system.
We share those lessons through the Sentinel events annual report.