Introduction: The Modified Early Warning Score (MEWS) is a simple, physiological score that may allow improvement in the quality and safety of management provided to surgical ward patients. The primary purpose is to prevent delay in intervention or transfer of critically ill patients.
Patients and methods: A total of 334 consecutive ward patients were prospectively studied. MEWS were recorded on all patients and the primary end-point was transfer to ITU or HDU.
Results: Fifty-seven (17%) ward patients triggered the call-out algorithm by scoring four or more on MEWS. Emergency patients were more likely to trigger the system than elective patients. Sixteen (5% of the total) patients were admitted to the ITU or HDU. MEWS with a threshold of four or more was 75% sensitive and 83% specific for patients who required transfer to ITU or HDU.
Conclusions: The MEWS in association with a call-out algorithm is a useful and appropriate risk-management tool that should be implemented for all surgical in-patients.