UPDATE – Since I originally wrote this piece, the defendant in this case filed a motion for reconsideration and, in June, the Court granted that motion, ultimately reversing the previous decision regarding the sentinel event report. Continue to visit our blog for further updates on the developing law regarding the discoverability of JCHAO sentinel event reports, as well as other issues in Pennsylvania medical malpractice law.
In a case of first impression, the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas has ruled that a hospital’s Sentinel Event Report to the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation (JACHO) is not privileged and must be produced in litigation.
JACHO is a private, independent, non-profit organization that evaluates and accredits hospitals and healthcare organizations throughout the country. One of the things JACHO does is investigate and analyze “sentinel events.” Sentinel events are incidents involving patients, unrelated to the patient’s normal hospital course and treatment, which result in death or serious harm to the patient. Some of the more common “sentinel events” are surgical materials or devices retained or left behind inside patients, falls that occur at hospitals and hospital-acquired infections. When sentinel events occur, JACHO-accredited hospitals report them to JACHO by way of a Sentinel Event Report. JACHO analyzes the events and then works with the hospital to help them learn from the events and improve patient safety moving forward.