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Fort HealthCare

Fort HealthCare improves sepsis identification, reduces mortality, shortens stay for patients

Sepsis is a pressing concern for clinicians in intensive care units across the country.

At Fort HealthCare, a Cerner ITWorks℠ client in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, the St. John Sepsis agent has helped staff cut the hospital’s sepsis mortality rate almost in half.

“The sepsis agent allows us to make a diagnosis quicker and institute treatment that we think would help the patient,” said Mohamed H. Yafai, MD, medical director of Fort HealthCare’s hospitalist program. “It dropped the mortality rate significantly.”

Facing a sepsis mortality rate of 9.1 percent,1 clinicians acted on alerts from the agent to lower the mortality rate to 4.6 percent.2

About Fort Health Care’s Journey to Better Health


In addition to monitoring symptoms, the agent alerts clinicians before the onset of septic shock. At Fort HealthCare, clinicians saw a 27 percent increase in average monthly identification of sepsis incidents.3

These alerts are important because the chances of saving a septic patient’s life greatly increase if the diagnosis and treatment occur within the first six hours — the so-called “golden hours.”

“The hope is you’re catching sepsis at a level where you can reverse the effect on the organ system,” Dr. Yafai said.

Additionally, Fort HealthCare reduced patient length of stay by eight percent.4

Providing timely data

Sepsis accounts for a big population at Fort HealthCare and is difficult to measure, said Connie Philpot, RN, MSN, quality analyst.

“One thing clinicians want is timely data,” she said. “Before the sepsis agent, we couldn’t measure data concurrently at all. We’d have to wait until the patient left and coding was done, and we knew we were missing some of those codes.”

Tracking patient data in real time takes a lot of resources, “but it was worth the time and effort so I could provide very timely feedback to staff,” she said.

The Fort quality team also sees benefits in the care of elderly patients, especially those who have dementia.

“With the sepsis alert, if we missed something on the first go-around because we don’t know what a patient’s usual mental state was, the alert helped tell us to look again,” she said.

Work still to be done

Dr. Yafai says the agent is working well, but as with any other algorithm or protocol, it needs constant review and adjustment. These changes will not deter Dr. Yafai and others at Fort HealthCare.

“The challenge is to continue and not to rest,” Dr. Yafai said. “We look forward to working together with Cerner, not only on sepsis but in several other areas.”

1 From March 2013 - December 2014
2 Between February 2015 - March 2016
3 From 15 cases (March 2013 - December 2014) to 19 cases (February 2015 - March 2016)
4 4.06 days (March 2013 - December 2014) compared to 3.75 days (February 2015 - March 2016)

More information

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Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realized by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.