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Early warning scores for sepsis identification and prediction of in‐hospital mortality in adults with sepsis: A systematic review and meta‐analysis

Chua, W. L., Rusli, K. D. B. & Aitken, L. M. ORCID: 0000-0001-5722-9090 (2024). Early warning scores for sepsis identification and prediction of in‐hospital mortality in adults with sepsis: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 33(6), pp. 2005-2018. doi: 10.1111/jocn.17061


The early warning scores (EWS), quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) and systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria have been proposed as sepsis screening tools. This review aims to summarise and compare the performance of EWS with the qSOFA and SIRS criteria for predicting sepsis diagnosis and in‐hospital mortality in patients with sepsis.

A systematic review with meta‐analysis.

Review Methods
Seven databases were searched from January 1, 2016 until March 10, 2022. Study quality was assessed using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies 2 tool. Sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios and diagnostic odd ratios were pooled by using the bivariate random effects model. Overall performance was summarised by using the hierarchical summary receiver–operating characteristics curve. This paper adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analyses of Diagnostic Test Accuracy Studies (PRISMA‐DTA) guidelines.

Ten studies involving 52,474 subjects were included in the review. For predicting sepsis diagnosis, the pooled sensitivity of EWS (65%, 95% CI: 55, 75) was similar to SIRS ≥2 (70%, 95% CI: 49, 85) and higher than qSOFA ≥2 (37%, 95% CI: 20, 59). The pooled specificity of EWS (77%, 95% CI: 64, 86) was higher than SIRS ≥2 (62%, 95% CI: 41, 80) but lower than qSOFA ≥2 (94%, 95% CI: 86, 98). Results were similar for the secondary outcome of in‐hospital mortality.

Although no one scoring system had both high sensitivity and specificity, the EWS had at least equivalent values in most measures of diagnostic accuracy compared with SIRS or qSOFA.

Implications for the profession
Healthcare systems in which EWS is already in place should consider whether there is any clinical benefit in adopting qSOFA or SIRS.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Publisher Keywords: early warning score, meta-analysis, mortality, qSOFA, sepsis, SIRS
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: Presidents's Portfolio
School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
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