Unpacking prevalence and dichotomy in quick sequential organ failure assessment and systemic inflammatory response syndrome parameters: Observational data–driven approach backed by sepsis pathophysiology

Nazmus Sakib, Sheikh Iqbal Ahamed, Rumi Ahmed Khan, Paul M. Griffin, Md Munirul Haque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Considering morbidity, mortality, and annual treatment costs, the dramatic rise in the incidence of sepsis and septic shock among intensive care unit (ICU) admissions in US hospitals is an increasing concern. Recent changes in the sepsis definition (sepsis-3), based on the quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA), have motivated the international medical informatics research community to investigate score recalculation and information retrieval, and to study the intersection between sepsis-3 and the previous definition (sepsis-2) based on systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) parameters. Objective: The objective of this study was three-fold. First, we aimed to unpack the most prevalent criterion for sepsis (for both sepsis-3 and sepsis-2 predictors). Second, we intended to determine the most prevalent sepsis scenario in the ICU among 4 possible scenarios for qSOFA and 11 possible scenarios for SIRS. Third, we investigated the multicollinearity or dichotomy among qSOFA and SIRS predictors. Methods: This observational study was conducted according to the most recent update of Medical Information Mart for Intensive Care (MIMIC-III, Version 1.4), the critical care database developed by MIT. The qSOFA (sepsis-3) and SIRS (sepsis-2) parameters were analyzed for patients admitted to critical care units from 2001 to 2012 in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston, MA, USA) to determine the prevalence and underlying relation between these parameters among patients undergoing sepsis screening. We adopted a multiblind Delphi method to seek a rationale for decisions in several stages of the research design regarding handling missing data and outlier values, statistical imputations and biases, and generalizability of the study. Results: Altered mental status in the Glasgow Coma Scale (59.28%, 38,854/65,545 observations) was the most prevalent sepsis-3 (qSOFA) criterion and the white blood cell count (53.12%, 17,163/32,311 observations) was the most prevalent sepsis-2 (SIRS) criterion confronted in the ICU. In addition, the two-factored sepsis criterion of high respiratory rate (≥22 breaths/minute) and altered mental status (28.19%, among four possible qSOFA scenarios besides no sepsis) was the most prevalent sepsis-3 (qSOFA) scenario, and the three-factored sepsis criterion of tachypnea, high heart rate, and high white blood cell count (12.32%, among 11 possible scenarios besides no sepsis) was the most prevalent sepsis-2 (SIRS) scenario in the ICU. Moreover, the absolute Pearson correlation coefficients were not significant, thereby nullifying the likelihood of any linear correlation among the critical parameters and assuring the lack of multicollinearity between the parameters. Although this further bolsters evidence for their dichotomy, the absence of multicollinearity cannot guarantee that two random variables are statistically independent. Conclusions: Quantifying the prevalence of the qSOFA criteria of sepsis-3 in comparison with the SIRS criteria of sepsis-2, and understanding the underlying dichotomy among these parameters provides significant inferences for sepsis treatment initiatives in the ICU and informing hospital resource allocation. These data-driven results further offer design implications for multiparameter intelligent sepsis prediction in the ICU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere18352
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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