MEWS is a tool that is used by your healthcare team to quickly see if there have been changes to your health condition. MEWS calculates a score that helps them see if changes to treatment or medicines are needed for your care. The MEWS score is made up of 6 pieces of information, including heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. MEWS helps give the healthcare team a “snapshot” or quick look at your overall health condition at that time.
Checking your vital signs is a routine part of any hospital stay. Tracking key information (like your temperature and heart rate) over time gives your nurses and doctors a quick look of how you’re doing during your hospital stay.
Vital signs awareness systems and tracking has been used in hospitals for many years. MEWS gives a score based on changes to commonly measured vital signs. The tool gives scores based on changes within a single vital sign and it contributes to an overall score. Small changes can be picked up more quickly and your healthcare team is able to act or make changes to your care sooner if they need to.
What does the MEWS score do?
By itself, the score doesn’t do anything. Your MEWS score does help show patterns in your health information. Your healthcare team will use the MEWS information and act on it to give you the appropriate care for your health needs.
For example, a change in score could prompt your healthcare team to review what medicines you’re on or may need. They may add more tests, treatments, or therapies to your care plan.
What does it mean if I have a high score?
A change from your baseline score is what your healthcare team will watch for. To make sure that you’re safe it may be necessary to check vital signs even if you’re sleeping. Talk to your healthcare team if you have any questions about this.
Has MEWS been used before?
Many hospital healthcare teams have been using this kind of tool for a long time. It’s used to help them make decisions and plan for each person’s care. The MEWS is a way of showing helpful information so your healthcare team can see and respond more quickly to changes. Many studies have shown this scoring tool is useful in helping to prevent or reduce adverse events.
When and where is my score seen?
Your MEWS score can be seen when your healthcare provider opens your chart while you're in hospital. This information is only on your chart while you’re in the hospital. It doesn’t get saved in your personal health record. However, the tests, treatments, and care that come from decisions based on your score will be included in your health record.
The MEWS score is a helpful tool or guide for your healthcare team and is only a single part of your entire health assessment. How you look and feel, along with all the other clinical information about you, gives the best picture of how you’re doing.
If you’re worried or have questions, ask a healthcare team member involved in your care about your score and what it means for you.
Current as of: June 19, 2023
Author: Early Warning Scores Group - Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.