What is the difference between a surgical complication and a surgical sentinel event?  

A sentinel event is a mistake that could have been avoided if proper procedures and techniques were followed that result in death, the risk of death, physical or psychological injury.  Examples include wrong side surgery or slips of the knife resulting in cut nerves, arteries, veins, bowels, etc. A surgical complication is an event that is not necessarily avoidable following surgery that does not seriously threaten a person’s well being.  Examples of these would be rejection of the hardware or poor healing.