Many critically ill patients are unable to make medical decisions for themselves. Family members or close friends are often asked to serve as surrogate decision makers. However, expectations about a patient’s overall prognosis sometimes differ between physicians and surrogate decision makers.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh enrolled 99 physicians and 229 surrogates who made decisions for 174 critically ill patients in a new study. They found that in about half of the cases, surrogates were substantially more optimistic about a patient’s prognosis compared to physicians and that the physician’s estimates were much more accurate than that of surrogates.