Background Since maternal mortality is a rare event, maternal near miss has been used as a proxy indicator for measuring maternal health. Maternal near miss (MNM) refers to a woman who nearly died but survived of complications during pregnancy, childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy. Although study of MNM in Ethiopia is becoming common, it is limited to public facilities leaving private facilities aside. The objective of this study was to assess MNM among women admitted in major private hospitals in eastern Ethiopia. Methods An institution based retrospective study was conducted from March 05 to 31, 2020 in two major private hospitals in Harar and Dire Dawa, eastern Ethiopia. The records of all women who were admitted during pregnancy, delivery or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy was reviewed for the presence of MNM criteria as per the sub-Saharan African MNM criteria. Descriptive analysis was done by computing proportion, ratio and means. Factors associated with MNM were assessed using binary logistic regression with adjusted odds ratio (aOR) along with its 95% confidence interval (CI). Results Of 1214 pregnant or postpartum women receiving care between January 09, 2019 and February 08, 2020, 111 women developed life-threatening conditions: 108 MNM and 3 maternal deaths. In the same period, 1173 live births were registered, resulting in an MNM ratio of 92.1 per 1000 live births. Anemia in the index pregnancy (aOR: 5.03; 95%CI: 3.12-8.13), having chronic hypertension (aOR: 3.13; 95% CI: 1.57-6.26), no antenatal care (aOR: 3.04; 95% CI: 1.58-5.83), being > 35 years old (aOR: 2.29; 95%CI: 1.22-4.29), and previous cesarean section (aOR: 4.48; 95% CI: 2.67-7.53) were significantly associated with MNM. Conclusions Close to a tenth of women admitted to major private hospitals in eastern Ethiopia developed MNM. Women with anemia, history of cesarean section, and old age should be prioritized for preventing and managing MNM. Strengthening antenatal care and early screening of chronic conditions including hypertension is essential for preventing MNM.