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Early in-hospital clinical deterioration is not predicted by severity of illness, functional status, or comorbidity

Authors Wang J, Hahn SS, Kline M, Cohen RI

Received 10 July 2017

Accepted for publication 22 August 2017

Published 29 September 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 329—334

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S145933

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Janice Wang,1 Stella S Hahn,1 Myriam Kline,2 Rubin I Cohen1

1Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, New Hyde Park, 2Biostatistics Unit, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Northwell Health, Manhasset, NY, USA


Background: Prior studies concentrated on unplanned intensive care unit (ICU) transfer to gauge deterioration occurring shortly following hospital admission. However, examining only ICU transfers is not ideal since patients could stabilize with treatment, refuse ICU admission, or not require ICU evaluation. To further explore etiologies of early clinical deterioration, we used rapid response team (RRT) activation within 48 hours of admission as an index of early clinical worsening.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of prospectively gathered admissions from the emergency department in an academic medical center was done. Data were reviewed independently by two physicians. We assessed severity of illness, functional status, comorbidity, the frequency of ICU and palliative care consultations, and changes in advance health care directives.
Results: Of 655 rapid responses (RRs) within the study period, 24.6% occurred within 48 hours of admission. Disease trajectory was the most frequent perceived reason for RRs (55.6% and 58.9%, reviewer 1 and 2, respectively) followed by medical error (15.6% and 15.2%). Acute physiology and chronic health evaluation II (APACHE-II) and modified early warning scores (MEWS) were higher at the time of RR compared to admission (p<0.0001). However, admission APACHE-II, MEWS, functional status, and comorbidity scores did not predict early RRs. One third of RRs resulted in ICU consultation and 95% were accepted. Palliative care consults were requested for 15%, the majority (65%) after RR and all resulting in advance directive change.
Conclusion: Disease trajectory accounted for most clinical deterioration and medical error contributed to 15%. Our data suggest that it is difficult to predict early clinical deterioration as none of the measured parameters were associated with RRT activation.

Keywords: clinical deterioration, rapid response team, hospital admission, triage, medical error, palliative care

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