This discussion article focuses on the literature surrounding early warning scoring systems and their use in primary care, specifically within district nursing. Patient deterioration is a global concern, associated with high mortality rates and avoidable deaths. Early recognition and response by nursing and other health care staff has been attributed to early warning scoring systems (EWSS) and tools. However, the use of equivalent tools in the community appears to be lacking. This review concludes that there is no consensus over the use of EWSS in district nursing and culture of practice is varied, rather than standardised.