New 'sepsis sniffer' generates faster care

10 October 2014

A system developed by Penn Medicine is able to sound the alarm if the early signs of sepsis are identified, reducing mortality rates and improving care. The early warning and response device has led to a marked improvement in transferring high-risk patients to intensive care, which suggests that fewer people are dying from the infection.

A new study, published online in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, has analysed the potential of the system to prevent sepsis - a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection, which can impair organs and cause failure - from developing. Early detection and treatment, typically with antibiotics and intravenous fluids, is critical for survival.

The Penn prediction tool, dubbed the "sepsis sniffer," uses laboratory and patient information such as body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, in the electronic health record of hospital inpatients to identify those at risk for sepsis. 

When thresholds are crossed, the device automatically sends an electronic communication to physicians, nurses, and other members of a rapid response team who then perform an immediate evaluation and take action to stabilise or transfer the patient if necessary.

"Our study is the first we're aware of that was implemented throughout a multihospital health system," said lead author Dr Craig A. Umscheid, director of Penn's Center for Evidence-based Practice.

Posted by Jeanette Royston​


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