National Early Warning Score (NEWS) was designed to detect deteriorating patients in hospital wards, specifically those at increased risk of ICU admission, cardiac arrest, or death within 24 h. NEWS is not validated for use in Emergency Departments (ED), but emerging data suggest it may be useful. A criticism of NEWS is that patients with chronic poor oxygenation, e.g. severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), will have elevated NEWS also in the absence of acute deterioration, possibly reducing the predictive power of NEWS in this subgroup. We wanted to prospectively evaluate the usefulness of NEWS in unselected adult patients emergently presenting in a Norwegian ED with respiratory distress as main symptom.
In respiratory distressed patients, NEWS was calculated on ED arrival, after 2–4 h, and the next day. Manchester Triage Scale (MTS) category, age, gender, comorbidity (ASA score), ICU-admission, ventilatory support, and discharge diagnoses were noted. Survival status was tracked for >90 days through the Population Registry. Data are medians (25–75th percentiles). Factors predicting 90-day survival were analysed with multiple logistic regression.
We included 246 patients; 71 years old (60–80), 89 % home-dwelling, 74 % ASA 3–4, 72 % MTS 1–2, 88 % admitted to hospital. NEWS on arrival was 5 (3–7). NEWS correlated closely with MTS category and maximum in-hospital level of care (ED, ward, high-dependency unit, ICU). Sixteen patients died in-hospital, 26 died after discharge within 90 days. Controlled for age, ASA score, and COPD, a higher NEWS on ED arrival predicted poorer 90-day survival. Increased NEWS also correlated with decreased 30-day- and in-hospital survival and a decreased probability for home-dwelling patients to be discharged directly home.
In respiratory distressed patients, NEWS on ED arrival correlated closely with triage category and need of ICU admission and predicted long-term out-of-hospital survival controlled for age, comorbidity, and COPD.
NEWS should be explored in the ED setting to determine its role in clinical decision-making and in communication along the acute care chain.