Conference Coverage

Novel score spots high-risk febrile children in ED



– A new age-adjusted quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) score designed for use in children presenting to the ED with fever showed good predictive value for admission to critical care within the next 48 hours, Aakash Khanijau, MD, reported at the annual meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Aakash Khanijau, Institute of Infection and Global Health, Univ. of Liverpool Bruce Jancin/MDedge News

Dr. Aakash Khanijau

“In the needle-in-a-haystack scenario that’s seen in pediatric emergency departments, our novel, age-adjusted qSOFA score could potentially improve the rapid identification and treatment of children with suspected sepsis presenting to the ED,” said Dr. Khanijau of the University of Liverpool (England).

He presented an exceptionally large retrospective validation study of the score’s performance in 12,393 children (median age, 2.5 years) who presented to EDs with fever, of whom 1,521 were admitted for suspected sepsis. Of the hospitalized children, 145 were admitted to critical care within the first 48 hours.

The pediatric qSOFA score had 72% sensitivity and 85% specificity for critical care admission within 48 hours, with a positive predictive value of 5.4% and, more importantly, a whopping negative predictive value of 99.6%.

“That very high negative predictive value underlines the powerful discriminatory nature of our tool in the emergency department setting,” Dr. Khanijau observed, adding that the score’s area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.81, which is considered a good predictive value.

The impetus for developing an age-adjusted pediatric qSOFA score stems from the fact that the original qSOFA score was designed for rapid assessment of adults with suspected sepsis and isn’t applicable in children. Other existing scores, including SIRS (the Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome criteria), the full SOFA, and PELOD-2 (the Pediatric Logistic Organ Dysfunction score), take longer to determine than the adapted qSOFA in a setting where speed is of the essence, he explained.

The original qSOFA components are altered mentation, systolic blood pressure, and respiratory rate. The novel score developed by Dr. Khanijau and coworkers swaps out systolic BP in favor of capillary refill time and age-adjusted heart rate using the thresholds previously established in a landmark study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Pediatrics. 2013 Apr;131[4]:e1150-7.)

“Our reasoning here is that arterial hypertension is known to be a much later sign of circulatory compromise in children and may provide less discriminatory value than signs such as delayed capillary refill time and tachycardia early in presentation in the emergency department,” according to Dr. Khanijau.

The novel scoring system features four criteria. One point each is given for a capillary refill time of 3 seconds or longer; anything less than “Alert” on the Alert, Responds to Voice, Respond to Pain, and Unresponsive scale; a heart rate above the 99th percentile on the age-adjusted curves; and a respiratory rate above the age-adjusted 99th percentile. Thus, scores can range from 0 to 4. In the validation study, a score of 2 or more spelled a 890% increased likelihood of being admitted to a critical care setting within 48 hours. It was also associated with a 100-fold increased likelihood of death during the hospitalization, which occurred in 10 children.

Asked how the new predictive score could change clinical management, Dr. Khanijau replied, “I think the key thing it does here is it identifies the children at risk of requiring critical care and should therefore motivate us in the children achieving that threshold to promptly investigate thoroughly for suspected sepsis using the more comprehensive tools, like the full SOFA.”

He reported having no financial conflicts of interest regarding his study.

SOURCE: Khanijau A et al. ESPID 2019, Abstract.

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