BACKGROUND: Vital signs, i.e. respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, pulse, blood pressure and temperature, are regarded as an essential part of monitoring hospitalized patients. Changes in vital signs prior to clinical deterioration are well documented and early detection of preventable outcomes is key to timely intervention. Despite their role in clinical practice, how to best monitor and interpret them is still unclear.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the ability of vital sign trends to predict clinical deterioration in patients hospitalized with acute illness.
DATA SOURCES: PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library and CINAHL were searched in December 2017.
STUDY SELECTION: Studies examining intermittently monitored vital sign trends in acutely ill adult patients on hospital wards and in emergency departments. Outcomes representing clinical deterioration were of interest.
DATA EXTRACTION: Performed separately by two authors using a preformed extraction sheet.
RESULTS: Of 7,366 references screened, only two were eligible for inclusion. Both were retrospective cohort studies without controls. One examined the accuracy of different vital sign trend models using discrete-time survival analysis in 269,999 admissions. One included 44,531 medical admissions examining trend in Vitalpac Early Warning Score weighted vital signs. They stated that vital sign trends increased detection of clinical deterioration. Critical appraisal was performed using evaluation tools. The studies had moderate risk of bias, and a low certainty of evidence. Additionally, four studies examining trends in early warning scores, otherwise eligible for inclusion, were evaluated.
CONCLUSIONS: This review illustrates a lack of research in intermittently monitored vital sign trends. The included studies, although heterogeneous and imprecise, indicates an added value of trend analysis. This highlights the need for well-controlled trials to thoroughly assess the research question.