Aim: Early warning scores (EWS) are widely used in well-resourced healthcare settings to identify patients at risk of mortality. The Modified Early Warning Score (MEWS) is a well-known EWS used comprehensively in the United Kingdom. The HOTEL score (Hypotension, Oxygen saturation, Temperature, ECG abnormality, Loss of independence) was developed and tested in a European cohort; however, its validity is unknown in resource limited settings. This study compared the performance of both scores and suggested modifications to enhance accuracy. Methods: A prospective cohort study of adults (≥18 yrs) admitted to medical wards at a Malawian hospital. Primary outcome was mortality within three days. Performance of MEWS and HOTEL were assessed using ROC analysis. Logistic regression analysis identified important predictors of mortality and from this a new score was defined. Results: Three-hundred-and-two patients were included. Fifty-one (16.9%) died within three days of admission. With a cut-point ≥2, the HOTEL score had sensitivity 70.6% (95% CI: 56.2 to 82.5) and specificity 59.4% (95% CI: 53.0 to 65.5), and was superior to MEWS (cut-point ≥5); sensitivity: 58.8% (95% CI: 44.2 to 72.4), specificity: 56.2% (95% CI: 49.8 to 62.4). The new score, dubbed TOTAL (Tachypnoea, Oxygen saturation, Temperature, Alert, Loss of independence), showed slight improvement with a cut-point ≥2; sensitivity 76.5% (95% CI: 62.5 to 87.2) and specificity 67.3% (95% CI: 61.1 to 73.1). Conclusion: Using an EWS generated in developed healthcare systems in resource limited settings results in loss of sensitivity and specificity. A score based on predictors of mortality specific to the Malawian population showed enhanced accuracy but not enough to warrant clinical use. Despite an assumption of common physiological responses, disease and population differences seem to strongly determine the performance of EWS. Local validation and impact assessment of these scores should precede their adoption in resource limited settings.
Bibliographical noteCopyright: 2013 Wheeler et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)