Screening tools for predicting mortality of adults with suspected sepsis: an international sepsis cohort validation study

Paul W. Blair*, Rittal Mehta, Chris Kwaku Oppong, Som Tin, Emily Ko, Ephraim L. Tsalik, Josh Chenoweth, Michelle Rozo, Nehkonti Adams, Charmagne Beckett, Christopher W. Woods, Deborah A. Striegel, Mark G. Salvador, Joost Brandsma, Lauren McKean, Rachael E. Mahle, William R. Hulsey, Subramaniam Krishnan, Michael Prouty, Andrew LetiziaAnne Fox, Dennis Faix, James V. Lawler, Chris Duplessis, Michael G. Gregory, Te Vantha, Alex Kwame Owusu-Ofori, Daniel Ansong, George Oduro, Kevin L. Schully, Danielle V. Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives We evaluated the performance of commonly used sepsis screening tools across prospective sepsis cohorts in the USA, Cambodia and Ghana. Design Prospective cohort studies. Setting and participants From 2014 to 2021, participants with two or more SIRS (Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) criteria and suspected infection were enrolled in emergency departments and medical wards at hospitals in Cambodia and Ghana and hospitalised participants with suspected infection were enrolled in the USA. Cox proportional hazards regression was performed, and Harrell's C-statistic calculated to determine 28-day mortality prediction performance of the quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) score ≥2, SIRS score ≥3, National Early Warning Score (NEWS) ≥5, Modified Early Warning Score (MEWS) ≥5 or Universal Vital Assessment (UVA) score ≥2. Screening tools were compared with baseline risk (age and sex) with the Wald test. Results The cohorts included 567 participants (42.9% women) including 187 participants from Kumasi, Ghana, 200 participants from Takeo, Cambodia and 180 participants from Durham, North Carolina in the USA. The pooled mortality was 16.4% at 28 days. The mortality prediction accuracy increased from baseline risk with the MEWS (C-statistic: 0.63, 95% CI 0.58 to 0.68; p=0.002), NEWS (C-statistic: 0.68; 95% CI 0.64 to 0.73; p<0.001), qSOFA (C-statistic: 0.70, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.75; p<0.001), UVA score (C-statistic: 0.73, 95% CI 0.69 to 0.78; p<0.001), but not with SIRS (0.60; 95% CI 0.54 to 0.65; p=0.13). Within individual cohorts, only the UVA score in Ghana performed better than baseline risk (C-statistic: 0.77; 95% CI 0.71 to 0.83; p<0.001). Conclusions Among the cohorts, MEWS, NEWS, qSOFA and UVA scores performed better than baseline risk, largely driven by accuracy improvements in Ghana, while SIRS scores did not improve prognostication accuracy. Prognostication scores should be validated within the target population prior to clinical use.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere067840
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult intensive & critical care
  • Epidemiology
  • Public health
  • Tropical medicine


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