DOI: 10.1097/pec.0000000000003153 ISSN: 1535-1815

Emergency Department Sepsis Triage Scoring Tool Elements Associated With Hypotension Within 24 Hours in Children With Fever and Tachycardia

Alexandra H. Baker, Vanessa M. Mazandi, Jackson S. Norton, Elliot Melendez
  • General Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health


Pediatric sepsis screening is becoming the standard of care for children presenting to the emergency department (ED) and has been shown to improve recognition of severe sepsis, but it is unknown if these screening tools can predict progression of disease. The objective of this study was to determine if any elements of a sepsis triage trigger tool were predictive of progression to hypotensive shock in children presenting to the ED with fever and tachycardia.


This study is a retrospective case-control study of children ≤18 years presenting to an ED with fever and tachycardia, comparing those who went on to develop hypotensive shock in the subsequent 24 hours (case) to those who did not (control). Primary outcome was the proportion of encounters where the patient had specific abnormal vital signs or clinical signs as components of the sepsis triage score. The secondary outcomes were the proportion of encounters where the patient had a sepsis risk factor.


During the study period, there were 94 patients who met case criteria and 186 controls selected. In the adjusted multivariable model, the 2 components of the sepsis triage score that were more common in case patients were the presence of severe cerebral palsy (adjusted odds ratio, 9.4 [3.7, 23.9]) and abnormal capillary refill at triage (adjusted odds ratio, 3.1 [1.4, 6.9]).


Among children who present to a pediatric ED with fever and tachycardia, those with prolonged capillary refill at triage or severe cerebral palsy were more likely to progress to decompensated septic shock, despite routine ED care.

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