An index of severity for acute pediatric illness

Am J Public Health. 1980 Aug;70(8):804-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.70.8.804.


A study population of 1,106 patients presenting to a pediatric emergency room for care of acute non-traumatic illness were prospectively assessed to determine what clinical manifestations and/or functional status indicators predicted the severity of their illnesses. From these data, a "Severity Index" was developed using a 0-1-2 point score for the five most significant predictors to give a maximum score of 10 points. The predictor variables include respiratory effort, skin color, activity, temperature, and ability to play. The index has a predictive accuracy for non-severe illness of 98.7 per cent with only 1.3 per cent false negative predictions. In predicting major illness, a false positive prediction rate of 15.8 per cent was obtained. The index appears valid both across and within diagnostic categories.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Connecticut
  • Decision Making
  • Diagnosis
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital
  • Pediatrics*
  • Prospective Studies