Sepsis digital alert helps nurses to save lives at London trust

System warns staff if a patient may be at risk of the condition

System warns staff if a patient may be at risk of the condition

Picture: iStock

A digital system that alerts nurses and doctors to potential sepsis cases has resulted in a reduction in deaths and shorter hospital stays linked to the potentially fatal condition.

It monitors changes in patients such as temperature, heart rate and glucose level, and notifies staff if they fall outside safe parameters.

Nurses and other healthcare professionals are informed via a pop-up warning that appears on a patient’s electronic health record.

Study analyses the benefits of using the alerts

The alert system has been used in emergency departments and acute and haematology wards at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London since 2016.

Researchers analysed data from more than 21,000 alerts from the system between October 2016 and May 2018 at St Mary’s Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital.

They found a 24% fall in the number of patient deaths due to sepsis when the system was used. 

View the RCNi sepsis resource collection 

Patients whose changing condition set off the alert also had a 35% increased chance of receiving timely antibiotics to treat sepsis, compared with a group of patients who were not monitored by the alert system.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, also found that patients who were monitored had a 4% lower chance of staying in hospital for more than a week.

Consequences of sepsis 

Five people die as a result of sepsis every hour in the UK, and a quarter of survivors are left with permanent, life-changing after-effects, according to the UK Sepsis Trust.

Anne Kinderlerer, consultant rheumatologist at the trust and co-author of the study, said: ‘More patients are surviving sepsis at our hospitals, and this is testament to the alert and treatment plans we have working hand in hand, which help us ensure that patients are treated with antibiotics and other interventions in order to save more lives.’

The trust says it plans to roll out the alert system in other specialties, following the positive results.

Read the research 

Evaluating a digital sepsis alert in a London multisite hospital network: a natural experiment using electronic health record data 

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