The quick sequential organ failure assessment (qSOFA) score has been proposed as a means to rapidly identify adult patients with suspected infection, in pre-hospital, Emergency Department (ED), or general hospital ward locations, who are in a high-risk category with increased likelihood of “poor outcomes:” a greater than 10% chance of dying or an increased likelihood of spending 3 or more days in the ICU. This score is intended to replace the use of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria as a screening tool; however, its role in ED screening and identification has yet to be fully elucidated. In this retrospective observational study, we explored the performance of triage qSOFA (tqSOFA), maximum qSOFA, and first initial serum lactate (> 3 mmol/L) at predicting in-hospital mortality and compared these results to those for the initial SIRS criteria obtained in triage. A total of 2859 sepsis cases were included and the in-hospital mortality rate was 14.4%. The sensitivity of tqSOFA ≥ 2 and maximum qSOFA ≥ 2 to predict in-hospital mortality were 33% and 69%, respectively. For comparison, the triage SIRS criteria and the initial lactate > 3 mmol/L had sensitivities of 82% and 65%, respectively. These results demonstrate that in a large ED sepsis database the earliest measurement of end organ impairment, tqSOFA, performed poorly at identifying patients at increased risk of mortality and maximum qSOFA did not significantly outperform initial serum lactate levels.
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