Prognostic accuracy of emergency department triage tools for adults with suspected COVID-19: The PRIEST observational cohort study.
Objectives: The World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend various triage tools to assist decision-making for patients with suspected COVID-19. We aimed to estimate the accuracy of triage tools for predicting severe illness in adults presenting to the emergency department (ED) with suspected COVID-19 infection. Methods: We undertook a mixed prospective and retrospective observational cohort study in 70 EDs across the United Kingdom (UK). We collected data from people attending with suspected COVID-19 between 26 March 2020 and 28 May 2020, and used presenting data to determine the results of assessment with the following triage tools: the WHO algorithm, NEWS2, CURB-65, CRB-65, PMEWS and the swine flu adult hospital pathway (SFAHP). We used 30-day outcome data (death or receipt of respiratory, cardiovascular or renal support) to determine prognostic accuracy for adverse outcome. Results: We analysed data from 20892 adults, of whom 4672 (22.4%) died or received organ support (primary outcome), with 2058 (9.9%) receiving organ support and 2614 (12.5%) dying without organ support (secondary outcomes). C-statistics for the primary outcome were: CURB-65 0.75; CRB-65 0.70; PMEWS 0.77; NEWS2 (score) 0.77; NEWS2 (rule) 0.69; SFAHP (6-point) 0.70; SFAHP (7-point) 0.68; WHO algorithm 0.61. All triage tools showed worse prediction for receipt of organ support and better prediction for death without organ support. At the recommended threshold, PMEWS and the WHO criteria showed good sensitivity (0.96 and 0.95 respectively), at the expense of specificity (0.31 and 0.27 respectively). NEWS2 showed similar sensitivity (0.96) and specificity (0.28) when a lower threshold than recommended was used. Conclusion: CURB-65, PMEWS and NEWS2 provide good but not excellent prediction for adverse outcome in suspected COVID-19, and predicted death without organ support better than receipt of organ support. PMEWS, the WHO criteria and NEWS2 (using a lower threshold than usually recommended) provide good sensitivity at the expense of specificity.
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust