The research will be presented today [Thursday 7 July] at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Academic Primary Care, hosted this year by the Academic Unit of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol. The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research (NSPCR).
Dr Susannah Fleming and colleagues used a dataset containing heart rate, temperature, and oxygen saturation measurements from 873 children, and assessed the severity of their illness by checking whether they were admitted to hospital in the following seven days.
Classification was carried out using the heart rate, temperature, and oxygen saturation elements of an existing paediatric scoring system (PAWS), designed for use in secondary care. In addition, a variety of data fusion models, including regression and distribution modelling, were developed using the same three vital signs.
Two statistical measures of the performance of each system – sensitivity and specificity – were then assessed. Sensitivity measures the proportion of actual positives which are correctly identified as such (for example, the percentage of sick people who are correctly identified as having the condition). Specificity measures the proportion of negatives which are correctly identified (for example, the percentage of healthy people who are correctly identified as not having the condition).
The existing scoring system was found to have a sensitivity of 64.3 per cent and specificity of 80.5 per cent while the best-performing model had a sensitivity of 79 per cent and specificity of 75.8 per cent.
Dr Fleming said: "Data fusion of three vital signs (heart rate, temperature, and oxygen saturation) provides moderate accuracy for predicting serious illness in children, and outperforms scores produced using this subset of vital signs in existing scoring systems. Although this type of score is difficulty to calculate by hand, it could be incorporated into commonly-available handheld phone applications, or into an integrated device incorporating a thermometer and pulse oximeter. Such a device would require a means of entering the patient's age, as the technique uses evidence-based curves to allow for the normal variation of heart rate during childhood."
Notes to editors
How sick is this child? Predicting severity of illness in primary care using three vital signs by Susannah Fleming, Matthew Thompson and Lionel Tarassenko
About the conference
The 40th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Academic Primary Care runs from Wednesday 6 July to Friday 8 July. It is the leading academic primary care meeting in the UK. There will be plenary talks from outstanding speakers, parallel presentations on a wide range of topics, workshops, panel sessions and posters. This year's conference is organised by Professor Chris Salisbury, Professor Debbie Sharp, Professor Alan Montgomery and Dr Sarah Purdy of the University of Bristol. For more information visit: http://www.sapc.ac.uk/index.php/conference-a-events
About the Society for Academic Primary Care
The Society for Academic Primary Care exists to support, promote and develop the discipline of academic primary care, bringing together teachers, researchers and practitioners from a range of disciplinary backgrounds to promote excellence in the development, delivery and evaluation of primary care policy and practice. The Society's work is underpinned by 3 key principles: promoting excellent teaching, research, and critical reflection on primary care practice and policy; valuing a distinctive primary care approach; recognising the importance of a multidisciplinary membership to achieve our goals. For more information, visit: http://www.sapc.ac.uk/index.php
About the NIHR
The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world-class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. www.nihr.ac.uk
Issued by the Public Relations Office, Communications Division, University of Bristol, tel: (0117) 928 8896, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.