Center for Advanced Practice


Analysis of Missed Sepsis Patients in a Pediatric Emergency Department With a Vital Sign-Based Electronic Sepsis Alert.

Publication Title

Pediatric emergency care

Document Type


PubMed ID



OBJECTIVE: To characterize the cohort of missed sepsis patients since implementation of an electronic sepsis alert in a pediatric emergency department (ED).

METHODS: Retrospective cohort study in a tertiary care children's hospital ED from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2017. Missed patients met international consensus criteria for severe sepsis requiring intensive care unit admission within 24 hours of ED stay but were not treated with the sepsis pathway/order set in the ED. We evaluated characteristics of missed patients compared with sepsis pathway patients including alert positivity, prior intensive care unit admission, and laboratory testing via medical record review. Outcomes included timeliness of antibiotic therapy and need for vasoactive medications.

RESULTS: There were 919 sepsis pathway patients and 53 (5%) missed patients during the study period. Of the missed patients, 41 (77%) had vital signs that flagged the sepsis alert. Of these 41 patients, 13 (32%) had a documented sepsis huddle where the team determined that the sepsis pathway was not indicated and 28 (68%) had no sepsis alert-related documentation. Missed patients were less likely to receive timely antibiotics (relative risk, 0.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.3-0.7) and more likely to require vasoactive medications (relative risk, 4.3; 95% confidence interval, 2.9-6.5) compared with sepsis patients.

CONCLUSIONS: In an ED with an electronic sepsis alert, missed patients often had positive sepsis alerts but were not treated for sepsis. Missed patients were more likely than sepsis pathway patients to require escalation of care after admission and less likely to receive timely antibiotics.


Child, Electronics, Emergency Service, Hospital, Humans, Retrospective Studies, Sepsis, Vital Signs



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