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Understanding harm

How harm occurs

"Patient safety incident" terminology

The World Health Organization (WHO) provides terminology to facilitate the sharing and learning of patient safety information globally, in its conceptual framework for the International Classification of Patient Safety. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) has adopted some of these terms [REF]. To support clarity and consistency in patient safety discussions, the CMPA now uses these terms instead of the "adverse event" terminology.

Patient safety incident: An event or circumstance which could have resulted, or did result, in unnecessary harm to the patient. There are 3 types:

  • harmful incident
  • no harm incident
  • near miss

To learn more about "patient safety incident" terminology, click on each box in the diagram.

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Incident analysis indicates the harm resulted from (or a combination of):

or combination
  • Underlying medical

  • Healthcare delivery

    • Inherent risk of investigation or treatment

    • Harmful incident

Other types of patient safety incidents

  • No harm incident

  • Near miss

Underlying medical condition/disease

Most unexpected poor clinical outcomes result from the natural progression of the underlying disease despite the best of care.