Safety and Quality > Our Work > Indicators of Safety and Quality > Australian Sentinel Events List

Sentinel events are a subset of adverse events that result in death or serious harm to a patient. The Australian sentinel events list was endorsed by Australian health ministers in 2002. The eight nationally agreed sentinel events are:

  1. Procedures involving the wrong patient or body part resulting in death or major permanent loss of function
  2. Suicide of a patient in an inpatient unit
  3. Retained instruments or other material after surgery requiring re-operation or further surgical procedure
  4. Intravascular gas embolism resulting in death or neurological damage
  5. Haemolytic blood transfusion reaction resulting from ABO incompatibility
  6. Medication error leading to the death of a patient reasonably believed to be due to incorrect administration of drugs
  7. Maternal death associated with pregnancy, birth and the puerperium
  8. Infant discharged to the wrong family.


In April 2004, Australian health ministers determined that public hospitals should report on sentinel events at the national level. Public reporting against the sentinel events list was previously done in the Commission’s Windows into Safety and Quality in Health Care publication, which is no longer published. Since 2007, sentinel events have been reported by states and territories in the Productivity Commission’s annual Report on Government Services (RoGS).

The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services

Review of the National Sentinel Events List

The Commission is undertaking a Review of the National Sentinel Events List on behalf of the states, territories and the Commonwealth. It is expected that the outcome of the review will be finalised in early 2018.