DOI: 10.1542/hpeds.2022-006964 ISSN:

Sepsis Prediction in Hospitalized Children: Model Development and Validation

Rebecca J. Stephen, Michael S. Carroll, Jeremy Hoge, Kimberly Maciorowski, Roderick C. Jones, Kate Lucey, Megan O’Connell, Carly Schwab, Jillian Rojas, L. Nelson Sanchez-Pinto
  • Pediatrics
  • General Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health


Early recognition and treatment of pediatric sepsis remain mainstay approaches to improve outcomes. Although most children with sepsis are diagnosed in the emergency department, some are admitted with unrecognized sepsis or develop sepsis while hospitalized. Our objective was to develop and validate a prediction model of pediatric sepsis to improve recognition in the inpatient setting.


Patients with sepsis were identified using intention-to-treat criteria. Encounters from 2012 to 2018 were used as a derivation to train a prediction model using variables from an existing model. A 2-tier threshold was determined using a precision-recall curve: an “Alert” tier with high positive predictive value to prompt bedside evaluation and an “Aware” tier with high sensitivity to increase situational awareness. The model was prospectively validated in the electronic health record in silent mode during 2019.


A total of 55 980 encounters and 793 (1.4%) episodes of sepsis were used for derivation and prospective validation. The final model consisted of 13 variables with an area under the curve of 0.96 (95% confidence interval 0.95–0.97) in the validation set. The Aware tier had 100% sensitivity and the Alert tier had a positive predictive value of 14% (number needed to alert of 7) in the validation set.


We derived and prospectively validated a 2-tiered prediction model of inpatient pediatric sepsis designed to have a high sensitivity Aware threshold to enable situational awareness and a low number needed to Alert threshold to minimize false alerts. Our model was embedded in our electronic health record and implemented as clinical decision support, which is presented in a companion article.

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