We evaluated the Pediatric Early Warning Score (PEWS) sensitivity as an early indicator of patients deterioration leading to a Rapid Response Team (RRT)/code event. We hypothesized that at least 80% of patients had a critical PEWS preceding the event. We determined staff awareness of deterioration in patient status prior to the event as evidenced by consults, addition of monitoring equipment or increased frequency of assessment. The timing of these events was compared to critical PEWS times.


One hundred and seventy non-ICU RRT and 16 code events were identified between October 2006 and February 2008. We completed retrospective PEWS at four-hour intervals or less for twenty-four hours preceding the event. The PEWS algorithm, guiding staff to consult at a critical score ≥4 or a single domain score equal to 3, was applied.


For 85.5% of patients the earliest indicator of deterioration, evidenced by a critical PEWS, was a median of 11 hours 36 minutes and the earliest preceding the event was 30 minutes. For 97.1% of patients the earliest median time to a consult was 80 minutes. Oximetry was added 6.9 hours for 43.5% of patients. 7% of patients had increased nursing assessment. A sub-group of patients had 1) critical PEWS, 2) consult and 3) addition of a monitor. The median time for earliest critical PEWS for these was significant (P < 0.001).


PEWS can potentially provide a forewarning time >11 hours, alerting the team to adapt the care plan and possibly averting an RRT or code.

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