Ferguson MK, Thompson K, Huisingh-Scheetz M, et al.

PLoS One 2014;9:e98654

Publication date: June 3, 2014


Frailty is a predictor of poor outcomes following many types of operations. Ferguson et al. measured thoracic surgeons’ accuracy in assessing patient frailty using videos of standarized patients demonstrating signs of physical frailty. The surgeons’ performance was then compared to that of geriatrics specialists.

The authors developed an anchored scale for rating the degree of frailty. Reference categories were assigned to 31 videos of standarized patients trained to exhibit five levels of activity ranging from “vigorous” to “frail.” Following an explanation of frailty, thoracic surgeons and geriatrics specialists rated the videos.

Videos of standarized patients exhibiting varying degrees of frailty were rated with internal consistency by thoracic surgeons as accurately as geriatrics specialists when referenced to an anchored scale. Ratings were less consistent for moderate degrees of frailty, suggesting that physicians require training to recognize early frailty. Such videos may be useful in assessing and teaching frailty recognition.


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