BACKGROUND: Critical illness is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Identifying patients with the highest risk of death could help with resource allocation and clinical decision making. Accordingly, we derived and validated a universal vital assessment (UVA) score for use in SSA.
METHODS: We pooled data from hospital-based cohort studies conducted in six countries in SSA spanning the years 2009-2015. We derived and internally validated a UVA score using decision trees and linear regression and compared its performance with the modified early warning score (MEWS) and the quick sepsis-related organ failure assessment (qSOFA) score.
RESULTS: Of 5573 patients included in the analysis, 2829 (50.8%) were female, the median (IQR) age was 36 (27-49) years, 2122 (38.1%) were HIV-infected and 996 (17.3%) died in-hospital. The UVA score included points for temperature, heart and respiratory rates, systolic blood pressure, oxygen saturation, Glasgow Coma Scale score and HIV serostatus, and had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.77 (95% CI 0.75 to 0.79), which outperformed MEWS (AUC 0.70 (95% CI 0.67 to 0.71)) and qSOFA (AUC 0.69 (95% CI 0.67 to 0.72)).
CONCLUSION: We identified predictors of in-hospital mortality irrespective of the underlying condition(s) in a large population of hospitalised patients in SSA and derived and internally validated a UVA score to assist clinicians in risk-stratifying patients for in-hospital mortality. The UVA score could help improve patient triage in resource-limited environments and serve as a standard for mortality risk in future studies.