Comparison of SIRS, qSOFA, and NEWS for the early identification of sepsis in the Emergency Department

  • Omar A. Usman
    Center for Health Policy, Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University, 117 Encina Commons, Stanford, CA 94305-6006, United States of America

    Center for Innovation to Implementation (Ci2i), VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, 795 Willow Road (152-MPD), Menlo Park, CA 94025, United States of America
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  • Asad A. Usman
    Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States of America
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  • Michael A. Ward
    Corresponding author at: 800 University Dr., Suite 310, Madison, WI 53705, United States of America.
    Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 800 University Dr. Suite 310, Madison, WI 53705, United States of America
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Published:November 07, 2018DOI:



      The increasing use of sepsis screening in the Emergency Department (ED) and the Sepsis-3 recommendation to use the quick Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) necessitates validation. We compared Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS), qSOFA, and the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) for the identification of severe sepsis and septic shock (SS/SS) during ED triage.


      This was a retrospective analysis from an urban, tertiary-care academic center that included 130,595 adult visits to the ED, excluding dispositions lacking adequate clinical evaluation (n = 14,861, 11.4%). The SS/SS group (n = 930) was selected using discharge diagnoses and chart review. We measured sensitivity, specificity, and area under the receiver-operating characteristic (AUROC) for the detection of sepsis endpoints.


      NEWS was most accurate for triage detection of SS/SS (AUROC = 0.91, 0.88, 0.81), septic shock (AUROC = 0.93, 0.88, 0.84), and sepsis-related mortality (AUROC = 0.95, 0.89, 0.87) for NEWS, SIRS, and qSOFA, respectively (p < 0.01 for NEWS versus SIRS and qSOFA). For the detection of SS/SS (95% CI), sensitivities were 84.2% (81.5–86.5%), 86.1% (83.6–88.2%), and 28.5% (25.6–31.7%) and specificities were 85.0% (84.8–85.3%), 79.1% (78.9–79.3%), and 98.9% (98.8–99.0%) for NEWS ≥ 4, SIRS ≥ 2, and qSOFA ≥ 2, respectively.


      NEWS was the most accurate scoring system for the detection of all sepsis endpoints. Furthermore, NEWS was more specific with similar sensitivity relative to SIRS, improves with disease severity, and is immediately available as it does not require laboratories. However, scoring NEWS is more involved and may be better suited for automated computation. QSOFA had the lowest sensitivity and is a poor tool for ED sepsis screening.


      NEWS (National Early Warning Score), AVPU (Alert, Voice, Pain, Unresponsive), AUROC (area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve)


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