Performance of crisis standards of care guidelines in a cohort of critically ill COVID-19 patients in the United States

Cell Rep Med. 2021 Sep 21;2(9):100376. doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100376. Epub 2021 Jul 28.


Many US states published crisis standards of care (CSC) guidelines for allocating scarce critical care resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the performance of these guidelines in maximizing their population benefit has not been well tested. In 2,272 adults with COVID-19 requiring mechanical ventilation drawn from the Study of the Treatment and Outcomes in Critically Ill Patients with COVID-19 (STOP-COVID) multicenter cohort, we test the following three approaches to CSC algorithms: Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores grouped into ranges, SOFA score ranges plus comorbidities, and a hypothetical approach using raw SOFA scores not grouped into ranges. We find that area under receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curves for all three algorithms demonstrate only modest discrimination for 28-day mortality. Adding comorbidity scoring modestly improves algorithm performance over SOFA scores alone. The algorithm incorporating comorbidities has modestly worse predictive performance for Black compared to white patients. CSC algorithms should be empirically examined to refine approaches to the allocation of scarce resources during pandemics and to avoid potential exacerbation of racial inequities.

Keywords: ARDS; COVID-19; acute respiratory distress syndrome; crisis standards of care; critical care; intensive care; medical ethics; triage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Crew Resource Management, Healthcare / standards*
  • Critical Care
  • Critical Illness
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Dysfunction Scores
  • Pandemics
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity
  • Standard of Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Standard of Care / trends*
  • United States / epidemiology