Epic's sepsis model used at 100+ hospitals has conflicting results: 6 things to know

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A new study from researchers at Cleveland-based MetroHealth found that Epic's sepsis warning system, which is used at hundreds of U.S. hospitals and health systems, is associated with administering antibiotics faster, according to an Aug. 20 study published in Critical Care Medicine

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed the emergency department of an unnamed academic, safety-net health system from August to December 2019. Patients were randomized to standard sepsis care or standard care augmented by a flag in Epic's EHR and an EHR-based emergency department pharmacist notification.

Six things to know:

  1. The study measured the time it took to administer antibiotics from the patients' ER arrival. There were 598 patients examined in the study over a span of five months. 

  2. The study found that patients in the augmented group were given antibiotics in a shorter time. The average time to administer antibiotics with patients in the early sepsis warning group was 2.3 hours, compared with 3 hours for patients in the standard care group.

  3. The study also found that the rates of antibiotic utilization and fluid resuscitation did not differ. There wasn't an increase of undesirable or harmful clinical observations observed in the patient group that used Epic's sepsis model, according to the report.

  4. The study was launched after mixed results from separate studies on the effectiveness of the model, according to the report.

  5. A June 21 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that Epic's model performed worse than claimed on the prediction tool's fact sheet. To evaluate the model, researchers from Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor looked at nearly 40,000 hospitalizations across the health system from 2018-19. 

  6. Findings showed the prediction tool correctly sorted patients on their risk of sepsis 63 percent of the time, lower than the 76 percent to 83 percent curve indicated on the model's fact sheet, researchers said. 

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