Background: Charted vital signs and laboratory results represent intermittent samples of a patient's dynamic physiologic state and have been used to calculate early warning scores to identify patients at risk of clinical deterioration. We hypothesized that the addition of cardiorespiratory dynamics measured from continuous electrocardiography (ECG) monitoring to intermittently sampled data improves the predictive validity of models trained to detect clinical deterioration prior to intensive care unit (ICU) transfer or unanticipated death.
Methods and findings: We analyzed 63 patient-years of ECG data from 8,105 acute care patient admissions at a tertiary care academic medical center. We developed models to predict deterioration resulting in ICU transfer or unanticipated death within the next 24 hours using either vital signs, laboratory results, or cardiorespiratory dynamics from continuous ECG monitoring and also evaluated models using all available data sources. We calculated the predictive validity (C-statistic), the net reclassification improvement, and the probability of achieving the difference in likelihood ratio χ2 for the additional degrees of freedom. The primary outcome occurred 755 times in 586 admissions (7%). We analyzed 395 clinical deteriorations with continuous ECG data in the 24 hours prior to an event. Using only continuous ECG measures resulted in a C-statistic of 0.65, similar to models using only laboratory results and vital signs (0.63 and 0.69 respectively). Addition of continuous ECG measures to models using conventional measurements improved the C-statistic by 0.01 and 0.07; a model integrating all data sources had a C-statistic of 0.73 with categorical net reclassification improvement of 0.09 for a change of 1 decile in risk. The difference in likelihood ratio χ2 between integrated models with and without cardiorespiratory dynamics was 2158 (p value: <0.001).
Conclusions: Cardiorespiratory dynamics from continuous ECG monitoring detect clinical deterioration in acute care patients and improve performance of conventional models that use only laboratory results and vital signs.