More fully, does a failed Medicine (Wisdom) check while taking the Stabilize action on an unconscious creature count as a failed death saving throw for the unconscious creature?

I've searched all over for this and haven't found anything conclusive, so I apologize if this is a duplicate. I had a disagreement with our DM in a session where one PC went down and I took the Stabilize action on her. After adding my Medicine skill modifier, my roll total was less than 10. The DM said that the failed Stabilize would count as a failed death saving throw for the unconscious PC. I eventually talked him out of that ruling, but I want to clarify for the future.

First time posting, let me know if I'm missing anything basic. Thanks in advance.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note: there's no need to apologize, just in case your Q might be a duplicate. There's usually multiple ways of asking the same question. So by having duplicates this only increases chances for future querents to find their answers. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Vadruk
    Jun 27, 2019 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


By the book, no

The rules on stabilizing creatures in Player's Handbook (pages 197-198) make no mention of a failed stabilize action having adverse effects on the target, apart from them remaining unconscious and having to continue making death saving throws on their turns. This isn't said in the section for death saving throws either. With no other source for the rule, it was a house rule, intentional or not, made by your GM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. I will inform my DM and accept the ruling next time, should that situation ever arise again. \$\endgroup\$
    – Viishnahn
    Mar 6, 2018 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Viishnahn You're welcome :) Should be noted, I'm very much in favor of everyone around the table participating in rules discussions. Your GM may have the final say, but that doesn't mean your opinion should be ignored! \$\endgroup\$
    – kviiri
    Mar 6, 2018 at 20:16

RAW no, but other ability checks have drawbacks if you fail by a certain amount (Thieves' Tools can set off a trap, Athletics while climbing can result in the character falling, etc...).

So, in my game, a failure by 5 or more, or a natural 1, results in a failed death saving throw. It makes the skill proficiency a bit better and makes the healer think more, which is always nice

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! I think you can improve this answer in a few ways: You should explain the "RAW no" part and include reference/quotes for your statements (such as other ability checks having a drawback). Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jun 27, 2019 at 14:28

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