Introduction Severe sepsis and septic shock (SS) are time-critical medical emergencies that affect millions of people in the world. Earlier administration of antibiotics has been shown to reduce mortality from SS; however, the initiation of early resuscitation requires recognition that a patient may have sepsis. Early warning scores (EWS) are broadly used to detect patient deterioration, but to date have not been evaluated to detect patients at risk for SS. The purpose of our study was to look at the relationship between the initial national EWS (NEWS) in the emergency department (ED) and the diagnosis of SS.
Methods We performed a retrospective, single-centre, observational study in the ED of an urban university hospital with an annual attendance of 140 000 patients. We aimed to include 500 consecutive non-trauma adult patients presenting to the ED with Manchester Triage System (MTS) category 1–3. The final diagnosis was taken from either the ED medical records or the hospital discharge summary. For all NEWS, the sensitivity and specificity to detect patients with SS was calculated.
Results A total of 500 patients were included, 27 patients (5.4%) met the criteria for SS. The area under the curve (AUC) for NEWS to identify patient at risk for SS is 0.89 (95% CI 0.84 to 0.94). A NEWS of 3 or more at ED triage has a sensitivity of 92.6% (95% CI 74.2% to 98.7%) and a specificity of 77% (95% CI 72.8% to 80.6%) to detect patients at risk for SS at ED triage.
Conclusions A NEWS of 3 or more at ED triage may be the trigger to systematically screen the patient for SS, which may ultimately lead to early recognition and treatment.
- emergency department management
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