A Comparison of the Quick-SOFA and Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Criteria for the Diagnosis of Sepsis and Prediction of Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Chest. 2018 Mar;153(3):646-655. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2017.12.015. Epub 2017 Dec 28.


Background: Several studies were published to validate the quick Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA), namely in comparison with the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis with the aim of comparing the qSOFA and SIRS in patients outside the ICU.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, and the Web of Science database from February 23, 2016 until June 30, 2017 to identify full-text English-language studies published after the Sepsis-3 publication comparing the qSOFA and SIRS and their sensitivity or specificity in diagnosing sepsis, as well as hospital and ICU length of stay and hospital mortality. Data extraction from the selected studies followed the recommendations of the Meta-analyses of Observational Studies in Epidemiology group and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement.

Results: From 4,022 citations, 10 studies met the inclusion criteria. Pooling all the studies, a total of 229,480 patients were evaluated. The meta-analysis of sensitivity for the diagnosis of sepsis comparing the qSOFA and SIRS was in favor of SIRS (risk ratio [RR], 1.32; 95% CI, 0.40-2.24; P < .0001; I2 = 100%). One study described the specificity for the diagnosis of infection comparing SIRS (84.4%; 95% CI, 76.2-90.6) with the qSOFA (97.3%; 95% CI < 92.1-99.4); the qSOFA demonstrated better specificity. The meta-analysis of the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of six studies comparing the qSOFA and SIRS favored the qSOFA (RR, 0.03; 95% CI, 0.01-0.05; P = .002; I2 = 48%) as a predictor of inhospital mortality.

Conclusions: The SIRS was significantly superior to the qSOFA for sepsis diagnosis, and the qSOFA was slightly better than the SIRS in predicting hospital mortality. The association of both criteria could provide a better model to initiate or escalate therapy in patients with sepsis.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42017067645.

Keywords: SIRS criteria; prediction of mortality; qSOFA; sepsis diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Organ Dysfunction Scores*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*
  • Sepsis / mortality*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome