Send to

Choose Destination
Arch Dis Child. 2019 Apr 4. pii: archdischild-2018-316231. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2018-316231. [Epub ahead of print]

Association between hypotension and serious illness in the emergency department: an observational study.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Erasmus MC-Sophia, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



The value of routine blood pressure measurement in the emergency department (ED) is unclear.


To determine the association between hypotension in addition to tachycardia and the Shock Index for serious illness.


Observational study.


University ED (2009-2016).


Routine data collected from consecutive children <16 years. Using logistic regression, we assessed the association between hypotension (adjusted for tachycardia) and Shock Index (ratio heart rate/blood pressure [BP]) for serious illness. The predictive accuracy (sensitivity, specificity) for hypotension and Shock Index was determined for serious illness, defined as intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital admissions.


We included 10 698 children with measured BP. According to three age-adjusted clinical cut-offs (Advanced Paediatric Life Support, Paediatric Advanced Life Support and Paediatric Early Warning Score), hypotension was significantly associated with ICU admission when adjusted for tachycardia (range OR 2.6-5.3). Hypotension showed low sensitivity (range 0.05-0.12) and high specificity (range 0.95-0.99) for ICU admission. Combining hypotension and tachycardia did not change the predictive value for ICU admission. Similar results were found for hospitalisation. Shock index was associated with serious illness. However, no specific cut-off value was identified in different age groups.


Hypotension, adjusted for tachycardia, is associated with serious illness, although its sensitivity is limited. Shock index showed an association with serious illness, but no acceptable cut-off value could be identified. Routine BP measurement in all children to detect hypotension has limited value in the ED. Future studies need to confirm which patients could benefit from BP measurement.


emergency medical service; hypotension; predictive value; serious illness; vital signs

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: None declared.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center