New clinical prediction model for early recognition of sepsis in adult primary care patients: a prospective diagnostic cohort study of development and external validation

Feike J Loots*, Marleen Smits, Rogier M Hopstaken, Kevin Jenniskens, Fleur H Schroeten, Ann van den Bruel, Alma C van de Pol, Jan Jelrik Oosterheert, Hjalmar Bouma, Paul Little, Michael Moore, Sanne van Delft, Douwe Rijpsma, Joris Holkenborg, Bas Ct van Bussel, Ralph Laven, Dennis Cjj Bergmans, Jacobien J Hoogerwerf, Gideon Hp Latten, Eefje Gpm de BontPaul Giesen, Annemarie den Harder, Ron Kusters, Arthur Rh van Zanten, Theo Jm Verheij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


BACKGROUND: Recognising patients who need immediate hospital treatment for sepsis while simultaneously limiting unnecessary referrals is challenging for GPs.

AIM: To develop and validate a sepsis prediction model for adult patients in primary care.

DESIGN AND SETTING: This was a prospective cohort study in four out-of-hours primary care services in the Netherlands, conducted between June 2018 and March 2020.

METHOD: Adult patients who were acutely ill and received home visits were included. A total of nine clinical variables were selected as candidate predictors, next to the biomarkers C-reactive protein, procalcitonin, and lactate. The primary endpoint was sepsis within 72 hours of inclusion, as established by an expert panel. Multivariable logistic regression with backwards selection was used to design an optimal model with continuous clinical variables. The added value of the biomarkers was evaluated. Subsequently, a simple model using single cut-off points of continuous variables was developed and externally validated in two emergency department populations.

RESULTS: A total of 357 patients were included with a median age of 80 years (interquartile range 71-86), of which 151 (42%) were diagnosed with sepsis. A model based on a simple count of one point for each of six variables (aged >65 years; temperature >38°C; systolic blood pressure ≤110 mmHg; heart rate >110/min; saturation ≤95%; and altered mental status) had good discrimination and calibration (C-statistic of 0.80 [95% confidence interval = 0.75 to 0.84]; Brier score 0.175). Biomarkers did not improve the performance of the model and were therefore not included. The model was robust during external validation.

CONCLUSION: Based on this study's GP out-of-hours population, a simple model can accurately predict sepsis in acutely ill adult patients using readily available clinical parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E437-E445
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number719
Early online date19 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • after-hours care
  • clinical decision rule
  • diagnosis
  • general practice
  • sepsis
  • vital signs

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