Refining and testing the diagnostic accuracy of an assessment tool (PAT-POPS) to predict admission and discharge of children and young people who attend an emergency department: protocol for an observational study

BMC Pediatr. 2018 Sep 17;18(1):303. doi: 10.1186/s12887-018-1268-7.


Background: Increasing attendances by children (aged 0-16 years) to United Kingdom Emergency Departments (EDs) challenges patient safety within the National Health Service (NHS) with health professionals required to make complex judgements on whether children attending urgent and emergency care services can be sent home safely or require admission. Health regulation bodies have recommended that an early identification systems should be developed to recognise children developing critical illnesses. The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Paediatric Observation Priority Score (PAT-POPS) was developed as an ED-specific tool for this purpose. This study aims to revise and improve the existing tool and determine its utility in determining safe admission and discharge decision making.

Methods/design: An observational study to improve diagnostic accuracy using data from children and young people attending the ED and Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at three hospitals over a 12 month period. The data being collected is part of routine practice; therefore opt-out methods of consent will be used. The reference standard is admission or discharge. A revised PAT-POPs scoring tool will be developed using clinically guided logistic regression models to explore which components best predict hospital admission and safe discharge. Suitable cut-points for safe admission and discharge will be established using sensitivity and specificity as judged by an expert consensus meeting. The diagnostic accuracy of the revised tool will be assessed, and it will be compared to the former version of PAT-POPS using ROC analysis.

Discussion: This new predictive tool will aid discharge and admission decision-making in relation to children and young people in hospital urgent and emergency care facilities.

Trial registration: NIHR RfPB Grant: PB-PG-0815-20034. 213469. Retrospectively registered on 11 April 2018.

Keywords: Diagnostic accuracy; Early identification systems, screening tool; Early warning score; Early warning system, hospital admissions; Emergency department; Observational; Paediatric.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Decision-Making / methods*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Triage / methods*
  • United Kingdom