The use of Pediatric Early Warning Scores is becoming widespread to identify and rapidly respond to patients with deteriorating conditions. The ability of Pediatric Early Warning Scores to identify children at high risk of deterioration or death has not, however, been established in resource-limited settings.


We developed the Pediatric Early Warning Score for Resource-Limited Settings (PEWS-RL) on the basis of expert opinion and existing scores. The PEWS-RL was derived from 6 equally weighted variables, producing a cumulative score of 0 to 6. We then conducted a case-control study of admissions to the pediatrics department of the main public referral hospital in Kigali, Rwanda between November 2016 and March 2017. We defined case patients as children fulfilling the criteria for clinical deterioration, who were then matched with controls of the same age and hospital ward.


During the study period, 627 children were admitted, from whom we selected 79 case patients and 79 controls. For a PEWS-RL of ≥3, sensitivity was 96.2%, and specificity was 87.3% for identifying patients at risk for clinical deterioration. A total PEWS-RL of ≥3 was associated with a substantially increased risk of clinical deterioration (odds ratio 129.3; 95% confidence interval 38.8–431.6; P <.005).


This study reveals that the PEWS-RL, a simple score based on vital signs, mental status, and presence of respiratory distress, was feasible to implement in a resource-limited setting and was able to identify children at risk for clinical deterioration.

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