Electronic health records (EHRs) can be used to predict the development of sepsis in an individual and his or her likely outcome if infected, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
Sepsis is a leading cause of death and hospitalization in the United States affecting more than 750,000 individuals annually, with 33% of sepsis cases resulting in death. However, an estimated 30% of deaths or serious health problems stemming from sepsis are considered preventable.
For the study, researchers from the University of California-Davis analyzed EHR data of 741 patients diagnosed with sepsis, including:
- Blood pressure;
- Respiratory rate;
- Temperature; and
- White blood cell count.
The study found that patients' vital signs and white blood cell counts can be used to accurately predict sepsis. It also found that researchers could determine an individual's risk of death from contracting the disease by analyzing:
- Blood pressure;
- Lactate level; and
- Respiratory rate.
The researchers are using the findings to develop an algorithm that can be used to create EHR alerts and provide instant information for health care providers.
Ilias Tagkopoulos—assistant professor of computer science at UC-Davis and senior author of the study—in a statement said, "Rather than using a 'gut-level' approach in an uncertain situation, physicians can instead use a decision-making tool that 'learns' from patient histories to identify health status and probable outcomes" (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 3/17; Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 3/17; Bresnick, EHR Intelligence, 3/17).
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