Table 1

Definitions

An adverse event is an unintended injury that results in temporary or permanent disability, death or prolonged hospital stay and that is caused by health care management rather than by the patient's underlying disease process.


A complication is an unintended and unwanted event or state during or following medical specialist treatment, that has an unfavourable effect on the health of the patient to such an extend that adjustment of the medical treatment is necessary or that irreparable harm has occurred.


A near miss is defined as an act of commission or omission that could have harmed the patient but was prevented from completion through a planned or unplanned recovery.


Disability refers to temporary or permanent impairment of physical or mental function attributable to the adverse event (including prolonged or strengthened treatment, prolonged hospital stay, readmission, subsequent hospitalisation, extra outpatient department consultations or death).


Causation refers to injury caused by health care management including acts of omission (inactions) i.e. failure to diagnose or treat, and acts of commission (affirmative actions) i.e. incorrect diagnosis or treatment, or poor performance.


Health Care management includes the actions of individual hospital staff as well as the broader systems and care processes. Health care management is any care related activity that involves the delivery of care or monitoring of health which is provided by individuals or a team of professionals.


A preventable adverse event is an adverse event resulting from an error in management due to failure to follow accepted practice at an individual or system level. Accepted practice was taken to be 'the current level of expected performance for the average practitioner or system that manages the condition in question'.


Merten et al. BMC Health Services Research 2011 11:59   doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-59

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