Frequency of alterations in qSOFA, SIRS, MEWS and NEWS scores during the emergency department stay in infectious patients: a prospective study

G.H.P. Latten*, J. Polak, A.H.H. Merry, J.W.M. Muris, J.C. Ter Maaten, T.J. Olgers, J.W.L. Cals, P.M. Stassen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background For emergency department (ED) patients with suspected infection, a vital sign-based clinical rule is often calculated shortly after the patient arrives. The clinical rule score (normal or abnormal) provides information about diagnosis and/or prognosis. Since vital signs vary over time, the clinical rule scores can change as well. In this prospective multicentre study, we investigate how often the scores of four frequently used clinical rules change during the ED stay of patients with suspected infection. Methods Adult (>= 18 years) patients with suspected infection were prospectively included in three Dutch EDs between March 2016 and December 2019. Vital signs were measured in 30-min intervals and the quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) score, the Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) criteria, the Modified Early Warning Score and the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) score were calculated. Using the established cut-off points, we analysed how often alterations in clinical rule scores occurred (i.e. switched from normal to abnormal or vice versa). In addition, we investigated which vital signs caused most alterations. Results We included 1433 patients, of whom a clinical rule score changed once or more in 637 (44.5%) patients. In 6.7-17.5% (depending on the clinical rule) of patients with an initial negative clinical rule score, a positive score occurred later during ED stay. In over half (54.3-65.0%) of patients with an initial positive clinical rule score, the score became negative later on. The respiratory rate caused most (51.2%) alterations. Conclusion After ED arrival, alterations in qSOFA, SIRS, MEWS and/or NEWS score are present in almost half of patients with suspected infection. The most contributing vital sign to these alterations was the respiratory rate. One in 6-15 patients displayed an abnormal clinical rule score after a normal initial score. Clinicians should be aware of the frequency of these alterations in clinical rule scores, as clinical rules are widely used for diagnosis and/or prognosis and the optimal moment of assessing them is unknown.
Original languageEnglish
Article number69
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Clinical rules
  • Infection
  • Emergency department
  • CARE

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