Importance: The Sepsis-3 Criteria emphasized the value of a change of 2 or more points in the Sequential [Sepsis-related] Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score, introduced quick SOFA (qSOFA), and removed the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria from the sepsis definition.
Objective: Externally validate and assess the discriminatory capacities of an increase in SOFA score by 2 or more points, 2 or more SIRS criteria, or a qSOFA score of 2 or more points for outcomes among patients who are critically ill with suspected infection.
Design, setting, and participants: Retrospective cohort analysis of 184 875 patients with an infection-related primary admission diagnosis in 182 Australian and New Zealand intensive care units (ICUs) from 2000 through 2015.
Exposures: SOFA, qSOFA, and SIRS criteria applied to data collected within 24 hours of ICU admission.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. In-hospital mortality or ICU length of stay (LOS) of 3 days or more was a composite secondary outcome. Discrimination was assessed using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC). Adjusted analyses were performed using a model of baseline risk determined using variables independent of the scoring systems.
Results: Among 184 875 patients (mean age, 62.9 years [SD, 17.4]; women, 82 540 [44.6%]; most common diagnosis bacterial pneumonia, 32 634 [17.7%]), a total of 34 578 patients (18.7%) died in the hospital, and 102 976 patients (55.7%) died or experienced an ICU LOS of 3 days or more. SOFA score increased by 2 or more points in 90.1%; 86.7% manifested 2 or more SIRS criteria, and 54.4% had a qSOFA score of 2 or more points. SOFA demonstrated significantly greater discrimination for in-hospital mortality (crude AUROC, 0.753 [99% CI, 0.750-0.757]) than SIRS criteria (crude AUROC, 0.589 [99% CI, 0.585-0.593]) or qSOFA (crude AUROC, 0.607 [99% CI, 0.603-0.611]). Incremental improvements were 0.164 (99% CI, 0.159-0.169) for SOFA vs SIRS criteria and 0.146 (99% CI, 0.142-0.151) for SOFA vs qSOFA (P <.001). SOFA (AUROC, 0.736 [99% CI, 0.733-0.739]) outperformed the other scores for the secondary end point (SIRS criteria: AUROC, 0.609 [99% CI, 0.606-0.612]; qSOFA: AUROC, 0.606 [99% CI, 0.602-0.609]). Incremental improvements were 0.127 (99% CI, 0.123-0.131) for SOFA vs SIRS criteria and 0.131 (99% CI, 0.127-0.134) for SOFA vs qSOFA (P <.001). Findings were consistent for both outcomes in multiple sensitivity analyses.
Conclusions and relevance: Among adults with suspected infection admitted to an ICU, an increase in SOFA score of 2 or more had greater prognostic accuracy for in-hospital mortality than SIRS criteria or the qSOFA score. These findings suggest that SIRS criteria and qSOFA may have limited utility for predicting mortality in an ICU setting.