Early detection of abnormal vital signs is critical for timely management of acute hospitalised patients and continuous monitoring may improve this. We aimed to assess the association between preceding vital sign abnormalities and serious adverse events (SAE) in patients hospitalised with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD). Two hundred patients' vital signs were wirelessly and continuously monitored with peripheral oxygen saturation, heart rate, and respiratory rate during the first 4 days after admission for AECOPD. Non-invasive blood pressure was also measured every 30-60 min. The primary outcome was occurrence of SAE according to international definitions within 30 days and physiological data were analysed for preceding vital sign abnormalities. Data were presented as the mean cumulative duration of vital sign abnormalities per 24 h and analysed using Wilcoxon rank sum test. SAE during ongoing continuous monitoring occurred in 50 patients (25%). Patients suffering SAE during the monitoring period had on average 455 min (SD 413) per 24 h of any preceding vital sign abnormality versus 292 min (SD 246) in patients without SAE, p = 0.08, mean difference 163 min [95% CI 61-265]. Mean duration of bradypnea (respiratory rate < 11 min-1) was 48 min (SD 173) compared with 30 min (SD 84) in patients without SAE, p = 0.01. In conclusion, the duration of physiological abnormalities was substantial in patients with AECOPD. There were no statistically significant differences between patients with and without SAE in the overall duration of preceding physiological abnormalities.Study registration: http://ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03660501). Date of registration: Sept 6 2018.