Pediatric Early Warning System Scores: Lessons to be Learned

Sam J. van Sambeeck*, Joris Fuijkschot, Boris W. Kramer, Gijs D. Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The objective was to evaluate the use of a pediatric early warning system (PEWS) score in Dutch general and university hospitals, 4 years after the introduction of a national safety program in which the implementation of a PEWS was advised. An electronic cross-sectional survey was used. All general and university hospitals (n = 91) with a pediatric department in The Netherlands were included in the study. The response rate was 100%. Three-quarters of all Dutch hospitals were using a PEWS score in the pediatric department. A wide variation in the parameters was found leading to 45 different PEWS scores. Almost all PEWS scores were invalidated, self-designed, or modified from other PEWS scores. In one-third of the hospitals with an emergency room, a PEWS was used with a wide variation in the parameters leading to 20 different PEWS scores, the majority of which are invalidated. Three-quarters of the hospitals did implement a PEWS score. The majority implemented an invalidated PEWS score. This may lead to a false sense of security or even a potentially dangerous situation. Although these systems are intuitively experienced as useful, the scientific evidence in terms of hospital mortality reduction and patient safety improvement is lacking. It is recommended to establish a national working group to coordinate the development, validation, and implementation of a wide safety program and a PEWS usable for both general and university hospitals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Intensive Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • pediatric early warning system
  • implementation
  • validation
  • safety management system
  • pediatric department
  • CARE

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