INTRODUCTION Multiple early warning scores (EWS) have been developed and implemented to reduce cardiac arrests on hospital wards. Case-control observational studies that generate an area under the receiver operator curve (AUROC) are the usual validation method, but investigators have also generated EWS with algorithms with no prior clinical knowledge. We present a protocol for the validation and comparison of our local Hamilton Early Warning Score (HEWS) with that generated using decision tree (DT) methods. METHODS AND ANALYSIS A database of electronically recorded vital signs from 4 medical and 4 surgical wards will be used to generate DT EWS (DT-HEWS). A third EWS will be generated using ensemble-based methods. Missing data will be multiple imputed. For a relative risk reduction of 50% in our composite outcome (cardiac or respiratory arrest, unanticipated intensive care unit (ICU) admission or hospital death) with a power of 80%, we calculated a sample size of 17,151 patient days based on our cardiac arrest rates in 2012. The performance of the National EWS, DT-HEWS and the ensemble EWS will be compared using AUROC. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION Ethics approval was received from the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (#13-724-C). The vital signs and associated outcomes are stored in a database on our secure hospital server. Preliminary dissemination of this protocol was presented in abstract form at an international critical care meeting. Final results of this analysis will be used to improve on the existing HEWS and will be shared through publication and presentation at critical care meetings.
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