External validation of the clinical dehydration scale for children with acute gastroenteritis

Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Jun;17(6):583-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00767.x.


Objectives: The objective was to validate the clinical dehydration scale (CDS) for children with gastroenteritis in a different pediatric emergency department (ED) from where it was initially derived and validated.

Methods: A prospective cohort study was performed in a tertiary care pediatric ED over a 1-year period. A sample of triage nurses were trained in applying the CDS. The CDS consists of four clinical characteristics (general appearance, eyes, mucous membranes, and tears), each of which are scored 0, 1, or 2 for a total score of 0 to 8, with 0 representing no dehydration; 1 to 4, some dehydration; and 5 to 8, moderate/severe dehydration. Children 1 month to 5 years of age with vomiting and/or diarrhea who had the CDS documented at triage and a final diagnosis of gastroenteritis, gastritis, or enteritis were enrolled. Exclusion criteria included a chronic disease, treatment with intravenous (IV) rehydration within the previous 24 hours, visit to the ED for the same illness in the 7 days prior to arrival, and diarrhea of more than 10 days' duration. The primary outcome was the length of stay (LOS) in the ED from the time of seeing a physician to discharge, analyzed with a Kruskal-Wallis test.

Results: From April 2008 to March 2009, 150 patients with a mean (+/-SD) age of 22 (+/-14) months (range = 4 months to 4 years) were enrolled. Fifty-six patients had no dehydration, 74 had some dehydration, and 20 had moderate/severe dehydration. The median LOS in the ED after being seen by a physician was significantly longer as children appeared more dehydrated according to the CDS: 54 minutes (interquartile range [IQR] = 26-175 minutes), 128 minutes (IQR = 25-334 minutes), and 425 minutes (IQR = 218-673 minutes) for the no, some, and moderate/severe dehydration groups, respectively (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The CDS has been further validated in children with gastroenteritis in a different pediatric center than the original one where it was developed. It is a good predictor of LOS in the ED after being seen by a physician.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dehydration / diagnosis*
  • Dehydration / etiology*
  • Dehydration / therapy
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Gastroenteritis / complications*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies