Results of pre-post intervention studies of sepsis early warning systems have been mixed, and randomized clinical trials showing efficacy in the emergency department setting are lacking. Additionally, early warning systems can be resource-intensive and may cause unintended consequences such as antibiotic or IV fluid overuse. We assessed the impact of a pharmacist and provider facing sepsis early warning systems on timeliness of antibiotic administration and sepsis-related clinical outcomes in our setting.
A randomized, controlled quality improvement initiative.
The main emergency department of an academic, safety-net healthcare system from August to December 2019.
Adults presenting to the emergency department.
Patients were randomized to standard sepsis care or standard care augmented by the display of a sepsis early warning system–triggered flag in the electronic health record combined with electronic health record–based emergency department pharmacist notification.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:
The primary process measure was time to antibiotic administration from arrival. A total of 598 patients were included in the study over a 5-month period (285 in the intervention group and 313 in the standard care group). Time to antibiotic administration from emergency department arrival was shorter in the augmented care group than that in the standard care group (median, 2.3 hr [interquartile range, 1.4–4.7 hr] vs 3.0 hr [interquartile range, 1.6–5.5 hr]; p = 0.039). The hierarchical composite clinical outcome measure of days alive and out of hospital at 28 days was greater in the augmented care group than that in the standard care group (median, 24.1 vs 22.5 d; p = 0.011). Rates of fluid resuscitation and antibiotic utilization did not differ.
In this single-center randomized quality improvement initiative, the display of an electronic health record–based sepsis early warning system–triggered flag combined with electronic health record–based pharmacist notification was associated with shorter time to antibiotic administration without an increase in undesirable or potentially harmful clinical interventions.