Determining need for hospitalisation: Evaluation of the utility of the CRB-65 score in patients with community-acquired pneumonia presenting to an emergency department

  • DM Kabundji
  • A Musekiwa
  • M Mukansi
  • C Feldman


Background. The CRB-65 severity of illness score, used for assessing patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), may be of particular benefit in resource-constrained areas, since it relies purely on clinical parameters.
Objective. To assess the potential accuracy of the CRB-65 score when used in deciding whether to hospitalise patients with CAP presenting to an emergency department (ED).
Methods. Prospective, observational study in an academic hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. Data from adult patients with radiologically confirmed CAP were analysed.
Results. Overall, 152 patients were enrolled (79 females, 73 males; median age 36.5 years). Several diverse criteria had been used by the ED doctors in admission decisions, while the CRB-65 score had been used in only 3/152 patients (1.6%). Overall, 68/152 patients (44.7%) had been managed as inpatients and 84/152 (55.3%) as outpatients. If the CRB-65 had been used as the sole criterion for site-of-care decisions, 107/152 patients (70.4%) would potentially have been managed as outpatients and 45/152 (29.6%) as inpatients. Achieving a stable clinical condition took longer (p=0.037) and mortality was higher (p<0.001) in patients with higher than lower CRB-65 scores. All five patients who died were inpatients. Of these, three (60.0%) would have been classified by the CRB-65 as having an intermediate mortality risk and two (40.0%) as having a high mortality risk.
Conclusions. This study demonstrates the utility of the CRB-65 score in accurately determining the need for admission of patients with CAP presenting to an ED in a resource-constrained environment.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135