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Vanderbilt researchers pioneer an advanced sepsis detection and management system
Date:6/15/2009

tep in the $360,000-plus project was creating a common vocabulary and knowledge base among the team members. The ISIS researchers spent two weeks at the hospital to familiarize themselves with the clinical environment. "I had to learn their language and they had to learn mine," Martin said. "They see the world totally differently, so we think of different problems. That makes it a lot of fun."

"Working with the docs is a pleasure," Mathe added. "They are very busy, but they are so smart it is scary. They pick up new ideas very quickly."

The first part of the project was the development of an automated early detection system that can alert doctors that a patient may be developing sepsis. The doctors came up with a formula involving patient temperature, heart rate, respiration rate and white blood count that they felt was indicative of the onset of SIRS. Currently, the alerts appear on "patient dashboards" displayed on ICU workstations. (In the future, they hope to add the capability of displaying the alert on doctors' cell phones.) When a doctor gets an alert, she checks out the patient. If she decides it was a false alarm, the system goes to sleep for 48 hours before resuming operation. If she decides the system was right and begins treatment, the alert system turns off for a week.

"For the last 15 years, we have been storing more and more of our information electronically," Shultz said. "But even a few years ago we couldn't have done a project like this because it makes decisions based on information stored on different systems that could not communicate effectively in real time." Patient temperature and respiratory data are handled by one system, for instance, while another handles laboratory test results. So a major technical challenge was building pipelines between the different systems and getting them to "play nicely" with each other.

Creating the decision management system presented a different kind of problem. The doctor
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Contact: David F. Salisbury
david.salisbury@vanderbilt.edu
615-343-6803
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert  

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