Predictive mortality models are not like fine wine

Crit Care. 2005;9(6):636-7. doi: 10.1186/cc3899. Epub 2005 Oct 26.


The authors of a recent paper have described an updated simplified acute physiology score (SAPS) II mortality model developed on patient data from 1998 to 1999. Hospital mortality models have a limited range of applicability. SAPS II, Acute Physiology, Age, and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) III, and mortality probability model (MPM)-II, which were developed in the early 1990s, have shown a decline in predictive accuracy as the models age. The deterioration in accuracy is manifested by a decline in the models' calibration. In particular, mortality tends to get over predicted when older models are applied to more contemporary data, which in turn leads to 'grade inflation' when benchmarking intensive care unit (ICU) performance. Although the authors claim that their updated SAPS II can be used for benchmarking ICU performance, it seems likely that this model might already be out of calibration for patient data collected in 2005 and beyond. Thus, the updated SAPS II model may be interesting for historical purposes, but it is doubtful that it can be an accurate tool for benchmarking data from contemporary populations.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Benchmarking / methods*
  • Critical Illness / classification
  • Forecasting / methods
  • Hospital Mortality / trends*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Severity of Illness Index