Glossary of harmful events

The cases of harm identified by the Sun are what Medicare calls 'hospital-acquired conditions.' All of them are preventable, and can cause great harm to patients, even death.

Foreign Object Retained After Surgery

A foreign body accidentally left inside a patient. Complications can include internal perforations, skin adhesions or serious reactions such as peritonitis, inflammation of the tissue that lines the wall of the abdomen.

Stage III and IV Pressure Ulcers

Severe sores resulting from bedridden patients not being turned or moved regularly, depriving their flesh of oxygen -- usually on the buttocks and heels. Stage III and IV bedsores were not identified as present at the time of admission and are considered advanced, sometimes reaching the muscle or bone.

Falls and Trauma

Fractures, dislocations, intracranial injuries, crushing injuries, burns or electric shock that were not identified as present at the time of admission. The injuries are not caused by falls per se, but involve physical trauma occurring in a hospital.

Manifestations of Poor Glycemic Control

Uncontrolled blood sugar and insulin levels, causing problems such as the body burning fat instead of sugar or a dangerous buildup of strong acids in the bloodstream. Excess blood sugar, or low blood sugar and/or too much insulin, can cause unconsciousness or death.

Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection

An infection and inflammatory reaction to a urinary catheter.

Vascular Catheter-Associated Infection

A bloodstream infection from a central-line or vascular catheter.

Surgical Site Infection

Patients experiencing infections of their surgical sites after: – Heart bypass surgery; specifically, an infection of the tissues of the midchest – Bariatric surgeries, including gastric bypass – Orthopedic procedures on the spine, neck, shoulder and elbow

Deep Vein Thrombosis/Pulmonary Embolism

Patients undergoing hip or knee replacement procedures develop blood clots, which can travel through the bloodstream and lodge in a lung artery or one of its branches. A clot blocking the system feeding the lungs can be deadly.

Note: Two of the Medicare hospital acquired conditions, air embolisms and blood incompatibility, did not show up in the Nevada hospital data.