Widely used track and trigger scores: Are they ready for automation in practice?

Santiago Romero-Brufau, Jeanne M. Huddleston, James M. Naessens, Matthew G. Johnson, Joel Hickman, Bruce W. Morlan, Jeffrey B. Jensen, Sean M. Caples, Jennifer L. Elmer, Julie A. Schmidt, Timothy I. Morgenthaler, Paula J. Santrach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Introduction: Early Warning Scores (EWS) are widely used for early recognition of patient deterioration. Automated alarm/alerts have been recommended as a desirable characteristic for detection systems of patient deterioration. We undertook a comparative analysis of performance characteristics of common EWS methods to assess how they would function if automated. Methods: We evaluated the most widely used EWS systems (MEWS, SEWS, GMEWS, Worthing, ViEWS and NEWS) and the Rapid Response Team (RRT) activation criteria in use in our institution. We compared their ability to predict the composite outcome of Resuscitation call, RRS activation or unplanned transfer to the ICU, in a time-dependent manner (3, 8, 12, 24 and 36. h after the observation) by determining the sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive values (PPV). We used a large vital signs database (6,948,689 unique time points) from 34,898 unique consecutive hospitalized patients. Results: PPVs ranged from less than 0.01 (Worthing, 3. h) to 0.21 (GMEWS, 36. h). Sensitivity ranged from 0.07 (GMEWS, 3. h) to 0.75 (ViEWS, 36. h). Used in an automated fashion, these would correspond to 1040-215,020 false positive alerts per year. Conclusions: When the evaluation is performed in a time-sensitive manner, the most widely used weighted track-and-trigger scores do not offer good predictive capabilities for use as criteria for an automated alarm system. For the implementation of an automated alarm system, better criteria need to be developed and validated before implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-552
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Automation
  • Cardiorespiratory arrests
  • Early warning score
  • Patient safety
  • Rapid response system
  • Track-and-trigger

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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