Table 1Harm classification

Harm categoryExample
Known clinical harm to the patientA positive herpes simplex culture of the eye, not handled over the weekend; by Monday the patient has severe eye pain andvisual changes.
Increased risk to patient or othersA missed diagnosis of diabetes for several years; or an Rh-negative woman, who is sensitized due to failure to check a blood type during a spontaneous miscarriage.
Patient discomfort or inconvenienceaA patient who must undergo a second skin biopsy due to a lost specimen.
Unstable or too early to tellA patient with atrial fibrillation and a missed low PT/INR that is reported prior to correcting the problem.
Unknown or no known harmAn unlabeled lab specimen for gonorrhea and Chlamydia PCR is discovered by the lab after the patient has been started on antibiotics.
a

Used only if report specifically mentioned discomfort or convenience.

From: Relationship Between Patient Harm and Reported Medical Errors in Primary Care: A Report from the ASIPS Collaborative

Cover of Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches (Vol. 1: Assessment)
Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches (Vol. 1: Assessment).
Henriksen K, Battles JB, Keyes MA, et al., editors.

NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.