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Table 2 Harvard Medical Practice Study categories for classifying etiology of adverse events and medical errors, with three added categories for patient factors.

From: Towards standardized measurement of adverse events in spine surgery: conceptual model and pilot evaluation

Code Type of Error Description
1 Diagnostic Error in diagnosis or delay in diagnosis
2 Diagnostic Failure to employ an indicated test
3 Diagnostic Use of outmoded tests or therapy
4 Diagnostic Failure to act on the results of monitoring or testing
5 Treatment Technical error in performance of an operation, procedure, or test
6 Treatment Error in administering the treatment (including preparation for operation or treatment)
7 Treatment Error in dose of drug or in the method of use of a drug
8 Treatment Avoidable delay in treatment or in responding to an abnormal test
9 Treatment Inappropriate (not indicated) care. Considering the patient's disease, its severity, and comorbidity, the anticipated benefit from the treatment did not significantly exceed the known risk, or a superior alternative was available
10 Preventive Failure to provide indicated prophylactic treatment
11 Preventive' Inadequate monitoring or follow-up of treatment
12 System Failure in communication
13 System Equipment failure
14 System Other systems failure
15 Other Unclassified
*16 No error Patient disease, expected risk
*17 No error Patient non-compliance
*18 No error Patient disease, unrelated to spinal surgery
  1. *Additional three categories not included in the Harvard Medical Practice Study. We group these as "no error" simply to distinguish them from the evaluation and treatment associated factors under direct control of the medical care system. Alternatively, these three factors may be considered errors in patient selection.