Medical record quality assessments of palliative care for intensive care unit patients do they match the perspectives of nurses and families?

Richard A. Mularski, Lissi Hansen, Susan J. Rosenkranz, Michael C. Leo, Paula Nagy, Steven M. Asch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Rationale: To understand how well palliative care is provided in the intensive care unit (ICU) and to direct improvements, measurement of the quality of care delivered is requisite. Objectives: To measure the quality of palliative care delivered in the ICU, using chart review-derived process quality measures of palliative care in critically ill patients, and to compare these measures with family and nursing perspectives on the quality of care provided. Methods: We developed and operationalized a comprehensive quality evaluation measure set from previously endorsed palliative care measure statements, using a rigorous multidisciplinary Delphi process focused on optimizing the validity and feasibility of chart review-derived metrics. Fourteen process measures assessed the quality of care delivered across established domains of palliative care for the ICU.Weassessed the quality of care for ICU patients with ICU length of stay exceeding 2 days from three perspectives: Medical record reviews, family satisfaction reports, and nurse ratings from those providing care in the ICU. Measurements and Main Results: We evaluated the care over a 7-month period of 150 patients (mean age, 63.9 yr [SD 13.4], average ICU length of stay, 7.5 d [SD 7.2]). Overall, ICU patients received 53.1% of recommended palliative care. The Family Satisfaction with Care in the Intensive Care Unit total scores from 136 family members (response rate, 91%) were high, 85.7 (SE 2.0) and 86.0 (SE 1.6), at the two sites but not correlated to measured quality delivered. Nurses rated the quality of care higher than medical record review (mean, 77.3% [SD 13.4]; n = 135) and similarly correlation with chart based process measures was poor. Conclusions: Delivering high-quality palliative care in the ICU requires assessing key patient-centered domains. However, assessments from different perspectives do not always agree with technical quality of care as measured through chart-based metrics. Wefound deficits across seven domains of technical quality that were not correlated with either nurse or family ratings. Despite care gaps, families were generally satisfied with the care delivered. We conclude that each measurement perspective provides an independent view that can guide quality improvement and innovation work as well as subsequent research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-698
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016


  • Critical care
  • End-of-life care
  • Family satisfaction
  • Palliative care
  • Quality of health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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