Comparison of SIRS criteria and qSOFA score for identifying culture-positive sepsis in the emergency department: a prospective cross-sectional multicentre study

L. Mignot-Evers*, V. Raaijmakers, G. Buunk, S. Brouns, L. Romano, T. van Herpt, A. Gharbharan, J. Dieleman, H. Haak

*Corresponding author for this work

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To compare the daily practice of two emergency departments (ED) in the Netherlands, where systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria and quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) score are used differently as screening tools for culture-positive sepsis.


A prospective cross-sectional multicentre study.


Two EDs at two European clinical teaching hospitals in the Netherlands.


760 patients with suspected infection who met SIRS criteria or had a qualifying qSOFA score who were treated at two EDs in the Netherlands from 1 January to 1 March 2018 were included.


SIRS criteria and qSOFA score were calculated for each patient. The first hospital treated the patients who met SIRS criteria following the worldwide Surviving Sepsis Campaign protocol. At the second hospital, only patients who met the qualifying qSOFA score received this treatment. Therefore, patients could be divided into five groups: (1) SIRS+, qSOFA-, not treated according to protocol (reference group); (2) SIRS+, qSOFA-, treated according to protocol; (3) SIRS+, qSOFA+, treated according to protocol; (4) SIRS-, qSOFA+, not treated according to protocol; (5) SIRS-, qSOFA+, treated according to protocol.

Primary and secondary outcome measures

To prove culture-positive sepsis was present, cultures were used as the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes were in-hospital mortality and intensive care unit (ICU) admission.


98.9% met SIRS criteria and 11.7% met qSOFA score. Positive predictive values of SIRS criteria and qSOFA score were 41.2% (95% CI 37.4% to 45.2%) and 48.1% (95% CI 37.4% to 58.9%), respectively. HRs were 0.79 (95% CI 0.40 to 1.56, p=0.500), 3.42 (95% CI 1.82 to 6.44, p


qSOFA score performed as well as SIRS criteria for identifying culture-positive sepsis and performed significantly better for predicting in-hospital mortality and ICU admission. This study shows that SIRS criteria are no longer necessary and recommends qSOFA score as the standard for identifying culture-positive sepsis in the ED.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere041024
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • accident & emergency medicine
  • general medicine (see internal medicine)
  • adult intensive & critical care
  • internal medicine

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