Comparing Two Proximal Measures of Unrecognized Clinical Deterioration in Children

J Hosp Med. 2020 Nov;15(11):673-676. doi: 10.12788/jhm.3515.


Critical deterioration events (CDEs) and emergency transfers (ETs) are two proximal measures to cardiopulmonary arrest, and both aim to evaluate how systems recognize and respond to clinical deterioration in children. This retrospective observational study sought to (1) characterize CDEs and ETs by timing, overlap, and intervention category, and (2) evaluate the performance of the watcher identification system and the pediatric early warning score (PEWS) to identify patients who experience these events. A total of 359 CDEs and 88 ETs occurred during the study period. Respiratory events were most common and accounted for 80.5% of CDEs and 47.7% of ETs. A narrow majority of patients were identified as watchers (55.4% of CDEs and 51.1% of ETs). In total, 85.5% of CDEs and 87.5% of ETs were identified as watchers, elevated PEWS, or both. Opportunities exist for improved escalation plans for high-risk patients to prevent the need for emergent intervention.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Clinical Deterioration*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Heart Arrest* / diagnosis
  • Heart Arrest* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies