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  1. Gaughan, Mary Rose MS, RN, CNE
  2. Jungquist, Carla R PhD, ANP-BC, FAAN


Patient deterioration is a phenomenon that occurs from the inability to recognize it or respond to a change in condition. Despite the published reports on recognizing a deteriorating patient on general care floors, a gap remains in the ability of nurses to describe the concept, affecting patient outcomes. Walker and Avant's approach was applied to analyze patient deterioration. The aim of this article was to explore and clarify the meaning of patient deterioration and identify attributes, antecedents, and consequences. The defining attributes were compared to early warning scores. An operational definition was developed and its value to nurses established.