News Feature | March 19, 2014

EHRs Can Predict Mortality, Sepsis Risk

Rebecca McCurry

By Rebecca McCurry

EHRs Can Predict Mortality

With routine patient information, EHR's may help to predict early stages of sepsis

Researchers from UC Davis , according to HealthCanal, determined, "Routine information — blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature, and white blood cell count — from the electronic health records (EHRs) of hospitalized patients can be used to predict the early stages of sepsis, a leading cause of death and hospitalization in the U.S.

"Sepsis is an immune system response to infection that can damage organs and cause permanent physical and mental disabilities. It is associated with increased blood levels of lactate, an acid produced when organs receive too little oxygen." The article continues, "Patients are rarely screened for blood lactate levels, because sepsis is very hard to distinguish in its early stages."

According to NCBI, it was proven "Effective predictions of lactate levels and mortality risk can be provided with a few clinical variables when the temporal aspect and variability of patient data are considered." The objective of the study was to  "develop a decision support system to identify patients at high risk for hyperlactatemia based upon routinely measured vital signs and laboratory studies."

The study used the EHRs of 741 adult patients at UC Davis "Who met at least two systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria." The information accessed was used to "associate patient's vital signs, white blood cell count, with sepsis occurrence and mortality. Generative and discriminative classification were used to integrate heterogeneous patient data and form a predictive tool for the inference of lactate level and mortality risk."

The official report on the findings further explained, "EHRs have become essential resources for providing relevant information on patients’ medical histories and improving the quality of care,” said study co-author Tim Albertson, chair of UC Davis Department of Internal Medicine. “We have shown that they can also be powerful resources for identifying best practices in medicine and reducing patient mortality." It was also concluded, "While early treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics and intravenous fluids is associated with better outcomes for those with sepsis, the potential harm from those treatments for low-risk patients far outweighs the benefits."