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      The ALERT scale: an observational study of early prediction of adverse hospital outcome for medical patients

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          Some medical patients are at greater risk of adverse outcomes than others and may benefit from higher observation hospital units. We constructed and validated a model predicting adverse hospital outcome for patients. Study results may be used to admit patients into planned tiered care units. Adverse outcome comprised death or cardiac arrest during the first 30 days of hospitalisation, or transfer to intensive care within the first 48 h of admission.


          The study took place at two tertiary teaching hospitals and two community hospitals in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


          We analysed data from 4883 consecutive admissions at a tertiary teaching hospital to construct the Early Prediction of Adverse Hospital Outcome for Medical Patients (ALERT) model using logistic regression. Robustness of the model was assessed through validation performed across four hospitals over two time periods, including 65 640 consecutive admissions.


          Receiver-operating characteristic curves (ROC) and sensitivity and specificity analyses were used to assess the usefulness of the model.


          9.3% of admitted patients experienced adverse outcomes. The final model included gender, age, Charlson Comorbidity Index, Activities of Daily Living Score, Glasgow Coma Score, systolic blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate and white cell count. The model was discriminative (ROC=0.83) in predicting adverse outcome. ALERT accurately predicted 75% of the adverse outcomes (sensitivity) and 75% of the non-adverse outcomes (specificity). Applying the same model to each validation hospital and time period produced similar accuracy and discrimination to that in the development hospital.


          Used during initial assessment of patients admitted to general medical wards, the ALERT scale may complement other assessment measures to better screen patients. Those considered as higher risk by the ALERT scale may then be provided more effective care from action such as planned tiered care units.

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          Most cited references 16

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          A new method of classifying prognostic comorbidity in longitudinal studies: development and validation.

          The objective of this study was to develop a prospectively applicable method for classifying comorbid conditions which might alter the risk of mortality for use in longitudinal studies. A weighted index that takes into account the number and the seriousness of comorbid disease was developed in a cohort of 559 medical patients. The 1-yr mortality rates for the different scores were: "0", 12% (181); "1-2", 26% (225); "3-4", 52% (71); and "greater than or equal to 5", 85% (82). The index was tested for its ability to predict risk of death from comorbid disease in the second cohort of 685 patients during a 10-yr follow-up. The percent of patients who died of comorbid disease for the different scores were: "0", 8% (588); "1", 25% (54); "2", 48% (25); "greater than or equal to 3", 59% (18). With each increased level of the comorbidity index, there were stepwise increases in the cumulative mortality attributable to comorbid disease (log rank chi 2 = 165; p less than 0.0001). In this longer follow-up, age was also a predictor of mortality (p less than 0.001). The new index performed similarly to a previous system devised by Kaplan and Feinstein. The method of classifying comorbidity provides a simple, readily applicable and valid method of estimating risk of death from comorbid disease for use in longitudinal studies. Further work in larger populations is still required to refine the approach because the number of patients with any given condition in this study was relatively small.
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            APACHE II: a severity of disease classification system.

            This paper presents the form and validation results of APACHE II, a severity of disease classification system. APACHE II uses a point score based upon initial values of 12 routine physiologic measurements, age, and previous health status to provide a general measure of severity of disease. An increasing score (range 0 to 71) was closely correlated with the subsequent risk of hospital death for 5815 intensive care admissions from 13 hospitals. This relationship was also found for many common diseases. When APACHE II scores are combined with an accurate description of disease, they can prognostically stratify acutely ill patients and assist investigators comparing the success of new or differing forms of therapy. This scoring index can be used to evaluate the use of hospital resources and compare the efficacy of intensive care in different hospitals or over time.
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              A new Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS II) based on a European/North American multicenter study.

              To develop and validate a new Simplified Acute Physiology Score, the SAPS II, from a large sample of surgical and medical patients, and to provide a method to convert the score to a probability of hospital mortality. The SAPS II and the probability of hospital mortality were developed and validated using data from consecutive admissions to 137 adult medical and/or surgical intensive care units in 12 countries. The 13,152 patients were randomly divided into developmental (65%) and validation (35%) samples. Patients younger than 18 years, burn patients, coronary care patients, and cardiac surgery patients were excluded. Vital status at hospital discharge. The SAPS II includes only 17 variables: 12 physiology variables, age, type of admission (scheduled surgical, unscheduled surgical, or medical), and three underlying disease variables (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, metastatic cancer, and hematologic malignancy). Goodness-of-fit tests indicated that the model performed well in the developmental sample and validated well in an independent sample of patients (P = .883 and P = .104 in the developmental and validation samples, respectively). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.88 in the developmental sample and 0.86 in the validation sample. The SAPS II, based on a large international sample of patients, provides an estimate of the risk of death without having to specify a primary diagnosis. This is a starting point for future evaluation of the efficiency of intensive care units.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba , Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
                [2 ]Division of Critical Care, Medicine Queen Elizabeth II HSC, Dalhousie University , Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
                [3 ]Internal Medicine Program, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority , Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
                [4 ]Capital District Health Authority, Performance Excellence , Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
                [5 ]Department of Geriatric Medicine, Dalhousie University Department of Medicine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
                [6 ]General Internal Medicine and Community Health Sciences, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba , Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Daniel Roberts; droberts@
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                13 April 2015
                : 5
                : 4
                Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

                This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

                General practice / Family practice


                hospital ward, adverse outcome, resource allocation


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