Introduction: Early warning scores (EWS) are recommended as part of the early recognition and response to patient deterioration. The Royal College of Physicians recommends the use of a National Early Warning Score (NEWS) for the routine clinical assessment of all adult patients.
Methods: We tested the ability of NEWS to discriminate patients at risk of cardiac arrest, unanticipated intensive care unit (ICU) admission or death within 24h of a NEWS value and compared its performance to that of 33 other EWSs currently in use, using the area under the receiver-operating characteristic (AUROC) curve and a large vital signs database (n=198,755 observation sets) collected from 35,585 consecutive, completed acute medical admissions.
Results: The AUROCs (95% CI) for NEWS for cardiac arrest, unanticipated ICU admission, death, and any of the outcomes, all within 24h, were 0.722 (0.685-0.759), 0.857 (0.847-0.868), 0.894 (0.887-0.902), and 0.873 (0.866-0.879), respectively. Similarly, the ranges of AUROCs (95% CI) for the other 33 EWSs were 0.611 (0.568-0.654) to 0.710 (0.675-0.745) (cardiac arrest); 0.570 (0.553-0.568) to 0.827 (0.814-0.840) (unanticipated ICU admission); 0.813 (0.802-0.824) to 0.858 (0.849-0.867) (death); and 0.736 (0.727-0.745) to 0.834 (0.826-0.842) (any outcome).
Conclusions: NEWS has a greater ability to discriminate patients at risk of the combined outcome of cardiac arrest, unanticipated ICU admission or death within 24h of a NEWS value than 33 other EWSs.
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