Scoring systems in paediatric emergency care: Panacea or paper exercise?

J Paediatr Child Health. 2016 Feb;52(2):181-6. doi: 10.1111/jpc.13123.


Scoring systems to recognise the most ill patients, or those at risk of deterioration, are increasingly utilised in hospitals that look after paediatric inpatients. There have been efforts to implement these systems in emergency and urgent care settings, but they have yet unproven value. This is because the child or young person presenting acutely is a different cohort than the 'treated' ward-based group. The majority of children presenting to emergency and urgent care settings are discharged home, and so, scoring systems need to recognise the most unwell but also assist in safe and appropriate discharge as well as highlighting those patients in need of more senior review. This article explores this conundrum, suggesting how cognitive factors have a role to play, and how scoring systems can have wider effects than just individual patient care.

Keywords: emergency care; human factors; paediatrics; scoring systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Clinical Decision-Making / methods*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Patient Admission
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Safety
  • Pediatric Emergency Medicine / methods*
  • Triage / methods*