Patient monitoring systems for sepsis - mixed results on patient outcomes

August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020 - Automated patient monitoring systems (PMSs) have been designed to reduce delays in diagnosis of sepsis in hospitalized patients. But so far, studies evaluating these systems have shown inconsistent effects on mortality rates and other patient outcomes, according to an evidence review in a special September supplement to the Journal of Patient Safety, which was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

"AHRQ funded this special supplement to help the field better understand and apply the latest research on safety issues related to eight important patient safety harm areas, including infections, sepsis, adverse drug events, inappropriate opioid use, and failures in teamwork and communication," said Jeff Brady, MD, MPH, Director of AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety.

The new supplement presents a cross-section of reviews from AHRQ's long-awaited Making Healthcare Safer III (MHS) report: an ongoing series dedicated to providing reliable information for improving the safety and quality of patient care.

Automated Monitoring Improves Sepsis Outcomes in Some Studies

Sepsis is a common and serious condition, estimated to occur in six percent of all hospital admissions in the United States. It has one of the highest mortality rates of any hospital condition, estimated at 15 to 30 percent. Delayed diagnosis and recognition of sepsis - leading to delays in starting treatment - are a key contributor to the high mortality from sepsis. "Automated sepsis PMSs have the potential to improve sepsis recognition and outcomes, but current evidence is mixed on their effectiveness," according to the report by Bryan M. Gale, MA, and Kendall K. Hall, MD, MS, of IMPAQ International in Columbia, Md.

Many hospitals are now using automated electronic PMSs, which continuously analyze data from patient monitoring devices and/or electronic health records and send clinical alerts when criteria for sepsis are met. In their systematic review, Mr. Gale and Dr. Hall gathered and analyzed evidence on how these monitoring systems affect mortality and other important outcomes. The analysis included data from 19 papers, including four previous systematic reviews.

Twelve studies provided data on patient outcomes - in eight of these, PMSs led to improvement in at least one outcome. Six studies provided evidence of reduced mortality: in one study, risk of death was nearly 50 percent lower in patients screened using the PMS.

Several studies also reported improvements in key processes of care with the use of PMSs - in eight out of nine studies, time to starting antibiotic treatment was significantly reduced. "[M]ore high-quality studies are needed to help to understand the effects of sepsis PMS on important process and outcome measures in different hospital units," Mr. Gale and Dr. Hall conclude.
MHS III Provides Updated Reviews with New Evidence for Advancing Patient Safety

Since 2001, AHRQ has published a series of MHS reports that "have provided reliable information for improving the safety and quality of care for patients," according to an introductory comment by Lynn Hoffman, MA, MPH, and colleagues of Abt Associates, Cambridge, Mass. The new supplement, titled Advancing Patient Safety: Reviews from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Making Healthcare Safer III Report, presents evidence reviews of eight of the 47 patient safety practices (PSPs) included in the full MHS III report.

Click here to read "Advancing Patient Safety: Reviews From the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Making Healthcare Safer III Report."
DOI: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000761

Click here to read "The Use of Patient Monitoring Systems to Improve Sepsis Recognition and Outcomes: A Systematic Review."
DOI: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000750

About the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) mission is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.

About Journal of Patient Safety

Journal of Patient Safety is dedicated to presenting research advances and field applications in every area of patient safety. While Journal of Patient Safety has a research emphasis, it also publishes articles describing near-miss opportunities, system modifications that are barriers to error, and the impact of regulatory changes on healthcare delivery. This mix of research and real-world findings makes Journal of Patient Safety a valuable resource across the breadth of health professions and from bench to bedside.

About Wolters Kluwer

Wolters Kluwer (WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the clinicians, nurses, accountants, lawyers, and tax, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and regulatory sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with advanced technology and services.

Wolters Kluwer reported 2019 annual revenues of €4.6 billion. The group serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries, and employs approximately 19,000 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands.

Wolters Kluwer provides trusted clinical technology and evidence-based solutions that engage clinicians, patients, researchers and students with advanced clinical decision support, learning and research and clinical intelligence. For more information about our solutions, visit and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter @WKHealth.

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