MEWS is an updated version of vital signs tracking. It gives your healthcare team a “snapshot” of your current condition.
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 to multiple vital signs and creates a total score instead of being based on a single value. Small changes can be picked up more quickly and your healthcare team is able to take action sooner if they need to.
By itself, the score doesn’t do anything. Nurses and doctors are the experts in your care. They’ll act on the information they get from MEWS.
The scoring ranges help show how sick you are. This helps guide the actions of your healthcare team. It also gives them a tool to better talk to and communicate with each other about changes they see.
The MEWS categories include:
To make decisions about your care plan your healthcare team uses:
For example, a change in score could cause your healthcare team to review what medicines you’re on or may need. They may also add more treatments or therapy to your care plan. Your healthcare team develops their response to meet your specific needs.
Sometimes a high score is normal. There are some areas of the hospital where you’d expect people to have high Early Warning System (EWS) scores.
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.
Many hospital healthcare teams have been using this kind of tool for a long time. It’s used as a way to help them make decisions and plan for each person’s care. The MEWS is a new way of showing helpful information so your healthcare team can see and respond more quickly to changes.
Many hospitals and care facilities have used paper-based systems to track information over the course of a day. This helped show patterns in a person’s information. The new MEWS system is the electronic version based on those paper systems. It’s been in use at other hospitals with good results.
The MEWS score can be seen when a nurse or healthcare provider opens your chart on the computer while you’re in hospital. This information is not shown in your personal health record.
The MEWS score is a helpful 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 to talk with you about your score.
Current as of: September 24, 2019
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.