Failure of infant observation scales in detecting serious illness in febrile, 4- to 8-week-old infants

M. D. Baker, J. R. Avner, L. M. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

132 Scopus citations


All infants aged 29 to 56 days with rectal temperatures in excess of 38.2°C who presented to the Emergency Department of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia from July 1987 through July 1988 were studied. Each infant was scored (1 to 5) on each of the six items in the Yale Observation Scale by an Emergeny Department attending physician before history and physical examination. Individual scores were then added to yield a total score for each patient. An observation score of 10 or less was indicative of a generally well-appearing child, and a score of 16 or more represented and ill-appearing child. Of 126 infants enrolled, 37 (29%) had serious illness; 12 (9.5%) had culture-proven bacterial disease. Of all infants with an observation score ≤ 10(n = 91), 22% had serious illness, and of all infants with an observation score ≥ 16 (n = 20), only 45% had serious illness. The findings suggest that even in experienced hands, the Yale Observation Scale alone does not provide sufficient data to identify serious illness in febrile, 1- to 2-month-old infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1040-1043
Number of pages4
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990



  • Infant Observation Scale
  • fever

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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