OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate the reliability and validity of a previously derived clinical dehydration scale (CDS) in a cohort of children with gastroenteritis and evidence of dehydration.

METHODS:

Participants were 226 children older than 3 months who presented to a tertiary care emergency department and required intravenous rehydration. Reliability was assessed at treatment initiation, by comparing the scores assigned independently by a trained research nurse and a physician. Validity was assessed by using parameters reflective of disease severity: weight gain, baseline laboratory results, willingness of the physician to discharge the patient, hospitalization, and length of stay.

RESULTS:

Interobserver reliability was moderate, with a weighted κ of 0.52 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.41, 0.63). There was no correlation between CDS score and percent weight gain, a proxy measure of fluid deficit (Spearman correlation coefficient = −0.03; 95% CI −0.18, 0.12). There were, however, modest and statistically significant correlations between CDS score and several other parameters, including serum bicarbonate (Pearson correlation coefficient = −0.35; 95% CI −0.46, −0.22) and length of stay (Pearson correlation coefficient = 0.24; 95% CI 0.11, 0.36). The scale’s discriminative ability was assessed for the outcome of hospitalization, yielding an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.65 (95% CI 0.57, 0.73).

CONCLUSIONS:

In children administered intravenous rehydration, the CDS was characterized by moderate interobserver reliability and weak associations with objective measures of disease severity. These data do not support its use as a tool to dictate the need for intravenous rehydration or to predict clinical course.

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