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Focused Review of a Sentinel Event. Root Cause Analysis. Determination the Need for Focused Review. When something goes wrong, the appropriate clinical experts are in consultation Administration Physician leadership Nursing leadership Risk Management Quality Management.

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determination the need for focused review
Determination the Need for Focused Review
  • When something goes wrong, the appropriate clinical experts are in consultation
    • Administration
    • Physician leadership
    • Nursing leadership
    • Risk Management
    • Quality Management
determination of need for focused review continued
Determination of Need for Focused Review continued
  • It is determined that the event meets the definition for sentinel events
    • NQF 27 Adverse Event Criteria
    • JCAHO Minimum Criteria
  • The event is a near miss (good catch)
    • the event has resulted or could have resulted in patient harm
  • Problems keep repeating

NQF Adverse Events

  • Surgical Events
  • Product or Device Events
  • Patient Protection Events
  • Care Management Events
  • Environmental Events
  • Criminal Events

JCAHO Minimum Events

  • Events resulting in an unanticipated death or major permanent loss of function, not related to the natural course of the patient’s illness or underlying condition

JCAHO Minimum Events

  • Event is one of the following (even if the outcome was not death or major permanent loss of function unrelated to the natural course of the patient’s illness or underlying condition)
    • Suicide of any individual receiving care, treatment or services in a staffed around-the-clock care setting or within 72 hours of discharge
    • Unanticipated death of a full-term infant
    • Abduction of any individual receiving care, treatment or services
    • Discharge of an infant to the wrong family
    • Rape
    • Hemolytic transfusion reaction involving administration of blood or blood products having major blood group incompatibilities
    • Surgery on the wrong individual or wrong body part
    • Unintended retention of a foreign object in an individual after surgery or other procedure

JCAHO Minimum Events

  • Unanticipated death or major permanent loss of function associated with a health care-acquired infection
  • Severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (bilirubin >30 milligrams/deciliter)
  • Prolonged fluoroscopy with cumulative dose >1500 rads to a single field, or any delivery of radiotherapy to the wrong body region or >25% above the planned radiotherapy dose

Other events where RCA could be considered

  • Near Misses
  • Repeated problems
  • Events which have resulted in patient harm, or could have resulted in patient harm
    • “Risk thereof”

Safety Assessment Code

  • Assists to prioritize safety related problems
  • Applies resources (time) where they have the greatest opportunity to improve safety
  • A tool intended to prioritize safety events yet not take the place of judgment
  • Based on 2 dimensions

Safety Assessment Code


  • Based on actual and potential risk – “worst case”
  • Needs to have consistent definition
  • Should be determined first

Safety Assessment Code

  • Catastrophic
    • Death or major permanent loss of function not related to natural course of illness or underlying condition
  • Major
    • Permanent lessening of bodily function not related to natural course of illness or underlying condition
  • Moderate
    • Increased length of stay or level of care
  • Minor
    • No injury, no increased length of stay or level of care

Safety Assessment Code


  • More subjective, greater chance of variation
  • Should be reflective of the facility
  • Categories
    • Frequent
    • Occasional
    • Uncommon
    • Remote
sentinel event focused review algorithm
Sentinel Event Focused Review Algorithm

The RCA is

conducted and an

action plan is


It is determined

that a focused

review should be


Manager schedules

the RCA to be

conducted within

30 days of the event

RCA documents

are reviewed by

medical staff in the

Department Meeting

(includes action plan)

Measurement plan

is implemented;

the action plan is

evaluated for


The action plan is

facilitated by the



Root Cause Analysis

  • Systematic process for identifying the most basic causal factor or factors for an undesirable event or problem
  • Focus is on process and systems, not individuals
  • Frequently ask “why “
  • Confidential
  • Conduct within 30 days
root cause analysis
Root Cause Analysis
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
root cause analysis17
Root Cause Analysis
  • Participating in a RCA is an opportunity to learn
  • Opportunity for staff to tell their story
  • Emphasis is on improving the system and not correcting the individuals

Goals of a Root Cause Analysis

  • Mechanism for reporting Sentinel Events
  • Investigating and evaluating causative factors
  • Initiation of performance improvement
  • Action plan development to prevent recurrence

Goals of a Root Cause Analysis

Understand the sequence of events

  • Flow chart
  • Cause and Effect Diagram

Chronological details can be done before to save time

Reviewing literature can help the team to differentiate between what they may or may not have within their control


RCA Team

  • Multidisciplinary :
    • Key staff and departments directly and indirectly involved in the event
    • Physicians, nurses and managers
    • Performance Improvement Staff

Key Aspects

  • Safe protected environment
  • Quality Management v.s. Risk Management
  • Gain better insight into processes involved in the event
    • Frequently asks “why”
  • Peer Review
    • MN Statute §§ 145.61
  • QM acts as a facilitator

Key Elements of RCA

  • Details of the event
  • Human factors
  • Staffing
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Equipment
  • Environmental
  • Uncontrollable external factors
  • Other factors

Triage Questions

  • Helps team understand event
  • Assures thoroughness of investigation
    • Human factors/Communication
    • Human factors/Training
    • Human factors fatigue/scheduling
    • Environment/Equipment
    • Rules/Policies/Procedures
    • Barriers

RCA Reporting Tools

  • Root Cause Analysis Summary
  • Root Cause Analysis Corrective Action Plan
  • Confidential under MN Statute §§ 145.61

Root Cause Analysis Summary

To be thorough, a RCA must include:

  • Determination of human and other factors
  • Determine related processes and systems
  • Analysis of underlying causes and effects – series of why’s
  • Identification of risks and their potential contributions

Determining the Root Cause

  • 5 Rules of Causation
    • Causal statements must clearly show the “cause and effect” relationship
    • Negative descriptors are not used in a causal statement
    • Each human error must have a preceding cause
    • Each procedural deviation must have a preceding cause
    • Failure to act is only causal when there was a pre-existing duty to act
focused review of a sentinel event32

Focused Review of aSentinel Event

Developing a Corrective Action Plan


Corrective Action Plan

  • Historically the weakest link to the process
  • Often RCA teams conclude solutions based on:
    • Recognition of warning signs
    • Training/education
    • Asking clinicians to “be more careful”
  • Creates challenges for the RCA team

Corrective Action Plan

  • Strong actions:
    • Physical plant changes
    • New device with usability testing prior to purchase
    • Forcing functions
    • Simplifying process – remove unnecessary steps
    • Standardize process/equipment
    • Leadership is actively involved

Corrective Action Plan

  • Intermediate actions:
    • Decrease workload
    • Software enhancements/modifications
    • Eliminate/reduce distraction
    • Checklists/cognitive aids/triggers/prompts
    • Eliminate look alike and sound alike
    • Read back
    • Enhanced documentation/communication
    • redundancy

Corrective Action Plan

  • Weak actions:
    • Double checks
    • Warnings/labels
    • New policies/procedures/memorandums
    • Training/education
    • Additional study

Corrective Action Plan

  • Do the Actions meet the following:
    • Address the root cause and contributing factors
    • Specific
    • Easily understood and implemented
    • Developed by process owners
    • Measurable

CorrectiveAction Plan

  • Identifies opportunities for improvement
  • Assigns responsibility for actions
  • Target dates are set for completion
  • Looks at follow up for effectiveness by using a measurement plan

Measure of Effectiveness

  • Confirmation that what we wanted to accomplish did in fact occur
  • Measures effectiveness of action, not the completion of the action
  • Defined numerator/denominator
  • Defined sampling plan and time frame
  • Realistic performance threshold
  • Plan for when initial measure did not meet threshold

Spread the Success/knowledge

  • Share with staff and Administration
    • Need to go beyond “share at staff meeting” - action is not sustained
  • Collaborate with other units and sites
  • Report sent to Medical Department for review/comments
thank you
Thank You!

Rosemary Emmons RN,BSN

HealthEast Quality Management

651-232-3392 phone

651-864-2535 pager

651-232-4435 fax