Comparison of PIRO, SOFA, and MEDS scores for predicting mortality in emergency department patients with severe sepsis and septic shock

Acad Emerg Med. 2014 Nov;21(11):1257-63. doi: 10.1111/acem.12515.


Objectives: The Predisposition Insult Response and Organ failure (PIRO) scoring system has been developed for use in the emergency department (ED) to risk stratify sepsis cases, but has not been well studied among high-risk patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. The PIRO score was compared with the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) and Mortality in ED Sepsis (MEDS) scores to predict mortality in ED patients with features suggesting severe sepsis or septic shock in the ED.

Methods: This was an analysis of sepsis patients enrolled in a prospective observational ED study of patients presenting with evidence of shock, hypoxemia, or other organ failure. PIRO, MEDS, and SOFA scores were calculated from ED data. Analysis compared areas under the receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves for 30-day mortality.

Results: Of 240 enrolled patients, final diagnoses were septic shock in 128 (53%), severe sepsis without shock in 70 (29%), and infection with no organ dysfunction in 42 (18%). Forty-eight (20%) patients died within 30 days of presentation. Area under the ROC curve (AUC) for mortality was 0.86 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.80 to 0.92) for PIRO, 0.81 (95% CI = 0.74 to 0.88) for MEDS, and 0.78 (95% CI = 0.71 to 0.87) for SOFA scores. Pairwise comparisons of the AUC were as follows: PIRO versus SOFA, p = 0.01; PIRO versus MEDS, p = 0.064; and MEDS versus SOFA; p = 0.37. Mortality increased with increasing PIRO scores: PIRO < 5, 0%; PIRO 5 to 9, 5%; PIRO 10 to 14, 5%; PIRO 15 to 19, 37%; and PIRO ≥ 20, 80% (p < 0.001). The MEDS score also showed increasing mortality with higher scores: MEDS < 5, 0%; MEDS 5 to 7, 12%; MEDS 8 to 11, 15%; MEDS 12 to 14, 48%; and MEDS > 15, 65% (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The PIRO model, taking into account comorbidities and septic source as well as physiologic status, performed better than the SOFA score and similarly to the MEDS score for predicting mortality in ED patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. These findings have implications for identifying and managing high-risk patients and for the design of clinical trials in sepsis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality / trends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shock, Septic / diagnosis
  • Shock, Septic / mortality
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Western Australia / epidemiology