The Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is responsible for assessing the quality of healthcare delivery and certifying an organization, such as a hospital, is fit to deliver its services. As part of this work, JCAHO compiles statistics and promotes best practices.

TSee Improving America's Hospitals - The Joint Commissions' Annual
						Report on Quality of Safety, Joint Commisions, 2007his graph shows the result of a JCAHO analysis of root causes of 3548 sentinel events, occurring over a 10-year period. Most sentinel events are found to depend on multiple failures. However, when death or a severe outcome occurs, almost 2/3 of the time communication is identified as the cause, or one of the key causes.

The purpose of communication is to create shared understanding - about the patient, and about what needs to be done. In short, communication is a highly visible and important type of coordination. Each root cause shown here is really a kind of coordination failure within the current team of caregivers. It can be a failure in the real-time provision of care. But it is also a factor in the organizational arrangements (resources, training, etc.) that create the context for communication and coordination of care.

Many of these causes have a direct relationship with the quality of handover. Further, we conclude from this analysis of sentinel events that healthcare IT (e.g., EMR, CPOE) in its current form does not address all these factors.






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