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Monitoring vital signs using early warning scoring systems: a review of the literature



Monitoring vital signs using early warning scoring systems: a review of the literature



Journal of Nursing Management 19(3): 311-330



To evaluate the need for, and the development and utility of, pen-and-paper (Modified) Early Warning Scoring (MEWS/EWS) systems for adult inpatients outside critical care and emergency departments, by reviewing published literature. Serious adverse events can be prevented by recognizing and responding to early signs of clinical and physiological deterioration. Of 534 papers reporting MEWS/EWS systems for adult inpatients identified, 14 contained useable data on development and utility of MEWS/EWS systems. Systems without aggregate weighted scores were excluded. MEWS/EWS systems facilitate recognition of abnormal physiological parameters in deteriorating patients, but have limitations. There is no single validated scoring tool across diagnoses. Evidence of prospective validation of MEWS/EWS systems is limited; neither is implementation based on clinical trials. There is no evidence that implementation of Westernized MEWS/EWS systems is appropriate in resource-poor locations. Better monitoring implies better care, but there is a paucity of data on the validation, implementation, evaluation and clinical testing of vital signs' monitoring systems in general wards. Recording vital signs is not enough. Patient safety continues to depend on nurses' clinical judgment of deterioration. Resources are needed to validate and evaluate MEWS/EWS systems in context.

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Accession: 054456872

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 21507102

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2011.01246.x


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