TableĀ 1

Sentinel conditions with clinical examples

Sentinel conditionsType of problemExamples of associated diagnoses
Respiratory distressUpper airway obstructionForeign body ingestion, upper airway infections, angioedema, tumours
Lower airway obstructionAsthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Lung tissue diseaseLower respiratory tract infections, pulmonary oedema (due to ischaemic heart disease or hypertensive heart disease), interstitial lung disease, pulmonary aspiration
ShockHypovolemic/haemorrhagicDiarrhoeal diseases, maternal haemorrhage, gastrointestinal bleeding, trauma
DistributiveAllergic reaction, septic shock, neurogenic shock
CardiogenicCardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, iron-deficiency anaemia
ObstructivePulmonary embolism, pericardial tamponade, tension pneumothorax
Altered mental statusSeizureEpilepsy, encephalitis
Hypoglycaemia/hyperglycaemiaMalnutrition, diabetes
Electrolyte disordersChronic kidney disease
Liver failureCirrhosis of the liver secondary to hepatitis B, hepatitis C or alcohol use
Cerebrovascular diseaseHaemorrhagic stroke, ischaemic stroke
IngestionOpioid use disorders, cocaine use disorders, poisonings, alcohol use disorders
Mental disordersSchizophrenia
Dangerous fever*Severe sepsis/septic shockMalaria, maternal sepsis and other maternal infections, skin and soft tissue infections, Ebola virus disease, tetanus
Fever in the immunocompromised hostHIV/AIDS, diabetes, haematological malignancies, chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer, neonatal sepsis
Hyperthermia (non-infectious)Thyroid disorder, environmental exposure, drug-associated
Severe painHeadacheBrain cancer, poisoning, cerebrovascular disease, meningitis, cerebral malaria, maternal hypertensive disorders
Chest painAcute coronary syndrome (ischaemic heart disease), aortic dissection, pericarditis, cardiomyopathy and myocarditis, rheumatic heart disease
Abdominal painAortic aneurysm, perforated viscous, appendicitis, pancreatitis, inguinal and femoral hernia, gall bladder and biliary diseases, urolithiasis, intestinal infectious disorders
TraumaHead traumaEpidural hematoma, subdural hematoma, skull fracture Flail chest, pneumothorax Solid organ injury, bowel perforation Pelvic fracture, long bone fracture Circumferential burn
Chest trauma
Abdominal trauma
Orthopaedic trauma
  • *Fever from a life-threatening cause due to multiple aetiologies including those infectious, environmental, endocrinologic or toxin mediated.