Performance of point-of-care severity scores to predict prognosis in patients admitted through the emergency department with COVID-19

J Hosp Med. 2023 May;18(5):413-423. doi: 10.1002/jhm.13106. Epub 2023 Apr 14.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Dysfunction Scores
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Prognosis
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis*