Objective To test the predictability of the Melbourne criteria for activation of the medical emergency team (MET) to identify children at risk of developing critical illness.
Design Cohort study.
Setting Admissions to all paediatric wards at the University Hospital of Wales.
Outcome measures Paediatric high dependency unit admission, paediatric intensive care unit admission and death.
Results Data were collected on 1000 patients. A single abnormal observation determined by the Melbourne Activation Criteria (MAC) had a sensitivity of 68.3% (95% CI 57.7 to 77.3), specificity 83.2% (95% CI 83.1 to 83.2), positive predictive value (PPV) 3.6% (95% CI 3.0 to 4.0) and negative predictive value 99.7% (95% CI 99.5 to 99.8) for an adverse outcome. Seven of the 16 children (43.8%) would not have transgressed the MAC prior to the adverse outcomes. Four hundred and sixty-nine of the 984 children (47.7%) who did not have an adverse outcome would have transgressed the MAC at least once during the admission.
Conclusion The MAC has a low PPV and its full implementation would result in a large number of false positive triggers. Further research is required to determine the relative contribution of the components of this complex intervention (Paediatric Early Warning System, education and MET) on patient outcome.
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Competing interests None.
Ethical approval The data collection was approved by the Trust Research and Development Committee and ethical approval was granted by the South East Wales Local Research Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.