Care providers may overestimate the quality of care they are giving

Doctors and nurses may overestimate the quality of the care they are giving before a complication arises, according to a study in Critical Care Medicine.

For the study, researchers interviewed care providers for 47 clinically deteriorating patients regarding how they perceived the quality of care they provided, and compared this with retrospective judgment by independent experts.

Key findings include:

  • Overall, the care providers rated their ability to spot a patient's deteriorating condition highly. They also rated their communication, cooperation and coordination of care for the patient as high.
  • Based on interviews, the researchers concluded that 38 of the 47 patients should have been considered “at risk” in the days preceding the complications.
  • The researchers determined there was a delay in recognizing deterioration in 60 percent of patients and no delay for 38 percent.
  • The care providers only recognized a delay in patient deterioration in 15 – 31% of these patients.

The authors conclude that these findings may partly explain the reluctance of care-providers to implement patient safety initiatives.

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, September 5, 2012; Reuters,, September 4, 2012; Critical Care Medicine,, September 2012)