Clinical question: Do repeated quick Sepsis-Related Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) measurements improve predictive validity for sepsis using in-hospital mortality, compared with a single qSOFA measurement at the time a clinician first suspects infection?
Background: Sepsis in hospitalized patients is associated with poor outcomes, but it is not clear how to best identify patients at risk. For non-ICU patients, the qSOFA score (made up of three simple clinical variables: respiratory rate greater than or equal to 22 breaths/minute, systolic blood pressure less than or equal to 100 mm Hg, and Glasgow Coma Scale score less than 15) has predictive validity for important outcomes including in-hospital mortality. qSOFA is relatively new in clinical practice, and the optimal utilization of the score has not yet been defined.
Study design: Retrospective Cohort Study.
Setting: All adult medical and surgical encounters in the ED, hospital ward, postanesthesia care unit (PACU), and ICU at 12 hospitals in Pennsylvania in 2012.
Synopsis: Kievlan et al. studied whether repeated qSOFA scores improved prediction of in-hospital mortality and allowed identification of specific clinical trajectories. The study included approximately 37,600 encounters. Authors abstracted demographic data, vital signs, laboratory results, and antibiotic/culture orders. An infection cohort was identified by a combination of orders for body fluid culture and antibiotics. The qSOFA scores were gathered at 6-hour intervals from the culture/antibiotic event (suspected sepsis). Scores were low (0), moderate (1), or high (greater than or equal to 2). Mean initial qSOFA scores were greater for patients who died, and remained higher during the 48-hours after suspected infection. Mortality was less than 2% in patients with an initial low qSOFA. 25% of patients with an initial moderate qSOFA had subsequent higher qSOFAs, and they had higher mortality, compared with patients with subsequent low qSOFA scores (16% vs. 4%).
Only those patients with initial qSOFA scores at the time of suspected infection were included, and missing data was common. The results may not be applicable to hospitals with a different sepsis case mix from the those of study institutions.
Bottom line: Repeated qSOFA measurements improve predictive validity for in-hospital mortality for patients with sepsis. Patients with low initial qSOFA scores have a low chance (less than 2%) of in-hospital mortality. Further studies are needed to determine how repeat qSOFA measurements can be used to improve management of patients with sepsis.
Citation: Kievlan DR et al. Evaluation of repeated quick sepsis-related organ failure assessment measurements among patients with suspected infection. Crit Care Med. 2018.
Dr. Linker is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of hospital medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York.