Rapid Systematic Review: The Appropriate Use of Quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) in the Emergency Department

Grzegorz Waligora, Gary Gaddis, Amy Church, Lisa Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The concept of sepsis has recently been redefined by an International Task Force. The task force recommended the use of the quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) score instead of Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) criteria to identify patients at high risk of mortality from sepsis outside of the intensive care unit, including in emergency departments (EDs). However, the primary outcome for qSOFA is prediction of risk for mortality, which is not the principal outcome measure considered in the ED. From the ED perspective, the priorities are the identification (diagnosis) of the septic patient and then the initiation of time-sensitive, life-saving interventions. Method: We performed a structured review of PubMed from January 2012 to December 2018, limited to reports involving human subjects and written in English language and containing relevant keywords. The highest-quality studies were then reviewed in a structured format. We utilized these studies to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of SIRS and qSOFA for diagnosis of sepsis. Results: Thirteen unique articles were identified for further review, and the 11 highest-grade articles (C and D) were determined to be appropriate for inclusion in this review, and the two low-grade articles were excluded (E). Conclusions: Based on multiple retrospective and few prospective studies, it appears that qSOFA performs poorly in comparison with SIRS as a diagnostic tool for ED patients who may have sepsis or septic shock. However, qSOFA does have a strong prognostic accuracy for mortality in those ED patients already diagnosed with sepsis or septic shock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • emergency department
  • qSOFA
  • sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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