Research ArticleSepsis

A targeted real-time early warning score (TREWScore) for septic shock

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Science Translational Medicine  05 Aug 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 299, pp. 299ra122
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aab3719

Evening the score against sepsis

Sepsis is a major cause of death, which remains difficult to treat despite modern antibiotics. Early aggressive treatment of this disease improves patient mortality, but the tools currently available in the clinic do not predict who will develop sepsis and its late manifestation, septic shock, until the patients are already in advanced stages of the disease. Henry et al. used readily available data from patient monitors and medical records to develop TREWScore, a targeted real-time early warning score that predicts in advance which patients are at risk for septic shock. With a median lead time of over 24 hours, this scoring algorithm may allow clinicians enough time to intervene before the patients suffer the most damaging effects of sepsis.


Sepsis is a leading cause of death in the United States, with mortality highest among patients who develop septic shock. Early aggressive treatment decreases morbidity and mortality. Although automated screening tools can detect patients currently experiencing severe sepsis and septic shock, none predict those at greatest risk of developing shock. We analyzed routinely available physiological and laboratory data from intensive care unit patients and developed “TREWScore,” a targeted real-time early warning score that predicts which patients will develop septic shock. TREWScore identified patients before the onset of septic shock with an area under the ROC (receiver operating characteristic) curve (AUC) of 0.83 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.81 to 0.85]. At a specificity of 0.67, TREWScore achieved a sensitivity of 0.85 and identified patients a median of 28.2 [interquartile range (IQR), 10.6 to 94.2] hours before onset. Of those identified, two-thirds were identified before any sepsis-related organ dysfunction. In comparison, the Modified Early Warning Score, which has been used clinically for septic shock prediction, achieved a lower AUC of 0.73 (95% CI, 0.71 to 0.76). A routine screening protocol based on the presence of two of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria, suspicion of infection, and either hypotension or hyperlactatemia achieved a lower sensitivity of 0.74 at a comparable specificity of 0.64. Continuous sampling of data from the electronic health records and calculation of TREWScore may allow clinicians to identify patients at risk for septic shock and provide earlier interventions that would prevent or mitigate the associated morbidity and mortality.

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