Predicting severe COVID-19 in the Emergency Department

Resusc Plus. 2020 Dec;4:100042. doi: 10.1016/j.resplu.2020.100042. Epub 2020 Oct 21.


Background: COVID-19 may lead to severe disease, requiring intensive care treatment and challenging the capacity of health care systems. The aim of this study was to compare the ability of commonly used scoring systems for sepsis and pneumonia to predict severe COVID-19 in the emergency department.

Methods: Prospective, observational, single centre study in a secondary/tertiary care hospital in Oslo, Norway. Patients were assessed upon hospital admission using the following scoring systems; quick Sequential Failure Assessment (qSOFA), Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome criteria (SIRS), National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2), CURB-65 and Pneumonia Severity index (PSI). The ratio of arterial oxygen tension to inspiratory oxygen fraction (P/F-ratio) was also calculated. The area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUROC) for each scoring system was calculated, along with sensitivity and specificity for the most commonly used cut-offs. Severe disease was defined as death or treatment in ICU within 14 days.

Results: 38 of 175 study participants developed severe disease, 13 (7%) died and 29 (17%) had a stay at an intensive care unit (ICU). NEWS2 displayed an AUROC of 0.80 (95% confidence interval 0.72-0.88), CURB-65 0.75 (0.65-0.84), PSI 0.75 (0.65-0.84), SIRS 0.70 (0.61-0.80) and qSOFA 0.70 (0.61-0.79). NEWS2 was significantly better than SIRS and qSOFA in predicating severe disease, and with a cut-off of5 points, had a sensitivity and specificity of 82% and 60%, respectively.

Conclusion: NEWS2 predicted severe COVID-19 disease more accurately than SIRS and qSOFA, but not significantly better than CURB65 and PSI. NEWS2 may be a useful screening tool in evaluating COVID-19 patients during hospital admission.

Trial registration: : Identifier: NCT04345536. (

Keywords: COVID- 19; CURB-65; National Early Warning Score2 (NEWS2); Pneumonia Severity Index (PSI); Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS); qSOFA.

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