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Doctors are often wrong when predicting how long terminally ill will live


Doctors often get it wrong when predicting how long terminally ill people have left to live, according to a new study co-authored by Brunel University London.

The review of more than 4,600 medical notes in which doctors predicted survival showed a wide variation in errors, ranging from an underestimate of 86 days to an overestimate of 93 days.

The review of existing research on the subject was led by a team at the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at University College London (UCL) and Brunel’s Head of Clinical Sciences Professor Priscilla Harries.

Articles reporting on the research have appeared in the Daily Mail and Independent.

Further work is now being carried out to see if it may be possible to train doctors to make better predictions.

The paper A Systematic Review of Predictions of Survival in Palliative Care: How Accurate Are Clinicians and Who Are the Experts? Can be seen here.