Background: Identifying COVID-19 patients at the highest risk of poor outcomes is critical in emergency department (ED) presentation. Sepsis risk stratification scores can be calculated quickly for COVID-19 patients but have not been evaluated in a large cohort.
Objective: To determine whether well-known risk scores can predict poor outcomes among hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Designs, settings, and participants: A retrospective cohort study of adults presenting with COVID-19 to 156 Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Healthcare EDs, March 2, 2020, to February 11, 2021.
Intervention: Quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA), Shock Index, National Early Warning System-2 (NEWS2), and quick COVID-19 Severity Index (qCSI) at presentation.
Main outcome and measures: The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes included intensive care unit (ICU) admission, mechanical ventilation, and vasopressors receipt. Patients scored positive with qSOFA ≥ 2, Shock Index > 0.7, NEWS2 ≥ 5, and qCSI ≥ 4. Test characteristics and area under the receiver operating characteristics curves (AUROCs) were calculated.
Results: We identified 90,376 patients with community-acquired COVID-19 (mean age 64.3 years, 46.8% female). 17.2% of patients died in-hospital, 28.6% went to the ICU, 13.7% received mechanical ventilation, and 13.6% received vasopressors. There were 3.8% qSOFA-positive, 45.1% Shock Index-positive, 49.8% NEWS2-positive, and 37.6% qCSI-positive at ED-triage. NEWS2 exhibited the highest AUROC for in-hospital mortality (0.593, confidence interval [CI]: 0.588-0.597), ICU admission (0.602, CI: 0.599-0.606), mechanical ventilation (0.614, CI: 0.610-0.619), and vasopressor receipt (0.600, CI: 0.595-0.604).
Conclusions: Sepsis severity scores at presentation have low discriminative power to predict outcomes in COVID-19 patients and are not reliable for clinical use. Severity scores should be developed using features that accurately predict poor outcomes among COVID-19 patients to develop more effective risk-based triage.
© 2023 Society of Hospital Medicine.