A boosting inspired personalized threshold method for sepsis screening

Chen Feng, Paul Griffin, Shravan Kethireddy, Yajun Mei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sepsis is one of the biggest risks to patient safety, with a natural mortality rate between 25% and 50%. It is difficult to diagnose, and no validated standard for diagnosis currently exists. A commonly used scoring criteria is the quick sequential organ failure assessment (qSOFA). It demonstrates very low specificity in ICU populations, however. We develop a method to personalize thresholds in qSOFA that incorporates easily to measure patient baseline characteristics. We compare the personalized threshold method to qSOFA, five previously published methods that obtain an optimal constant threshold for a single biomarker, and to the machine learning algorithms based on logistic regression and AdaBoosting using patient data in the MIMIC-III database. The personalized threshold method achieves higher accuracy than qSOFA and the five published methods and has comparable performance to machine learning methods. Personalized thresholds, however, are much easier to adopt in real-life monitoring than machine learning methods as they are computed once for a patient and used in the same way as qSOFA, whereas the machine learning methods are hard to implement and interpret.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-175
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Statistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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