sentinel event

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An event, such as the first detected case of an unusual condition or a sudden and otherwise unexplainable surge in sickness absences from work, that presages the onset of an epidemic or the occurrence of other trends or changes in the level of population health. The event may be detected retrospectively; e.g., analysis of mortality statistics may reveal a cluster of cases of birth defects or an uncommon malignant condition.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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