Center for Advanced Practice


Sepsis in Complex Patients in the Emergency Department: Time to Recognition and Therapy in Pediatric Patients With High-Risk Conditions.

Publication Title

Pediatric emergency care

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PubMed ID



OBJECTIVES: To compare timeliness of sepsis recognition and initial treatment in patients with and without high-risk comorbid conditions.

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients presenting to a pediatric emergency department (ED) who triggered a vital sign-based electronic sepsis alert resulting in bedside "huddle" assessment per institutional practice. A positive sepsis alert was defined as age-specific tachycardia or hypotension, concern for infection, and at least 1 of the following: abnormal capillary refill, abnormal mental status, or a high-risk condition. High-risk conditions were derived from the American Academy of Pediatrics sepsis alert tool. Patients with a positive alert underwent bedside huddle resulting in a decision regarding initiation of sepsis protocol. Placement on the protocol and time to initiation of protocol and individual therapies were compared for patients with and without high-risk conditions.

RESULTS: During the 1-year study period, there were 1107 sepsis huddle alerts out of 96,427 ED visits. Of these, 713 (65%) had identified high-risk conditions, and 394 (35%) did not. Among patients with sepsis huddles, there was no difference in sepsis protocol initiation for patients with high-risk conditions compared with those without (24.8% vs 22.0%, P = 0.305). Between patients with high-risk conditions and those without, there were no differences in median time from triage to sepsis protocol activation, triage to initial intravenous antibiotic, triage to initial intravenous fluid therapy, or ED length of stay.

CONCLUSIONS: Timeliness of care initiation was no different in high-risk patients with sepsis when using an electronic sepsis alert and protocolized sepsis care.


Adolescent, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Child, Child, Preschool, Clinical Alarms, Comorbidity, Emergency Service, Hospital, Female, Fluid Therapy, Humans, Hypotension, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Length of Stay, Male, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Retrospective Studies, Risk Factors, Sepsis, Time-to-Treatment, Triage, Vital Signs



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