We report on the adaptation and evaluation of a previously developed patient-centered instrument that we call the Quality of End-of-life care and Satisfaction with Treatment (QUEST) scale. In a separate group of 30 inpatients, test-retest reliability for QUEST items ranged from 63% agreement (kappa = 0.43) to 93% agreement (kappa = 0.86) and construct validity was evidenced by correlations with a somewhat related satisfaction scale ranging from 0.38 to 0.47. QUEST was then administered to 206 consecutive medical inpatients (or their surrogates) with DNR orders and to a comparison group of 51 medical inpatients without DNR orders at 2 academic medical centers. Among these main study patients, internal consistency was reflected by Cronbach alphas of 0.88 to 0.93. QUEST scores showed modest inverse correlations with severity of symptoms, but were uncorrelated with severity of illness, anxiety, or depression, suggesting an appropriate relationship to symptom control but divergence of the underlying construct from degree of physical illness or affective state. QUEST scores were lower for patients with DNR orders compared to those without DNR orders (P = 0.02 to 0.06). Surrogate ratings of satisfaction and quality were uncorrelated with patient ratings. Although preliminary, these findings suggest that QUEST may be useful in assessing quality and satisfaction with the care rendered by physicians and nurses to hospitalized patients at the end of life.