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Table 1 Terminology and definitions used to describe hazards and/or harm in patient care

From: Preventable mortality evaluation in the ICU

Patient safety incident: event or circumstance that could have resulted in, or did result in, unnecessary harm to a patient
Adverse event (harmful incident):
   • Injury or harm related to (or from) the delivery of care (Institute of Healthcare Improvement)
   • A patient safety incident; undesirable health event that may or may not be related to the treatment
   • Any injury due to medical management, rather than to the underlying disease [28]
   • In several studies: an incident that resulted in death, life-threatening illness, disability at time of discharge, admission to hospital or prolongation of hospital stay
Medical error:
   • An adverse event that is preventable, inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis and/or treatment
   • Failure of a planned action to be completed as intended or the use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim [28]
Sentinel event (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations): a serious medical error; any unanticipated event in a healthcare setting resulting in death or serious physical or psychological injury
Never event: a serious reportable event; occurrence that should never happen in a hospital and can be prevented
Near miss: a patient safety incident; event or situation that could have resulted in an accident, injury or illness but did not, either by chance or through timely intervention
Critical incident: adverse event with the potential to harm patients, staff or visitors [45]
Complication: unfavorable evolution of a disease, health condition or medical treatment
  1. This table is original and has not been reproduced elsewhere. It has been composed from definitions found in the literature used for writing this manuscript.