Fed Pract. 2021 Nov;38(11):508-515b. doi: 10.12788/fp.0194.
BACKGROUND: Mortality reduction has been a major focus of improvement for health care systems. Although several studies have noted improved sepsis-related mortality with the use of electronic health record (EHR) systems, there are no known published early warning sepsis systems using the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) EHR system.
METHODS: The Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MRVAMC), a large academic 1a VHA facility within the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (NF/SGVHS), was identified as having opportunities for improvement related to inpatient mortality outcomes. Sepsis was discovered as the primary contributor to inpatient mortality for MRVAMC's acute level of care (LOC). Education along with implementation of an early warning sepsis system (EWSS) was subsequently integrated in the VHA EHR known as the Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture/ Computerized Patient Record System (VistA/CPRS) at NF/SGVHS, which applied a combination of informatics solutions within a Lean Six Sigma quality improvement framework.
RESULTS: At MRVAMC, there was an observed decrease in the number of inpatient deaths for the acute LOC from a high of 48 in fiscal year (FY) 2017, quarter 3 to a low of 27 in FY 2019, quarter 4. This resulted in as large of an improvement as a 44% reduction in unadjusted mortality with education and implementation of an EWSS from FYs 2017 to 2019. Additionally, the MRVAMC acute LOC risk-adjusted mortality (standardized mortality ratio) improved from > 1.0 to < 1.0, demonstrating fewer inpatient mortalities than predicted from FYs 2017 to 2019.
CONCLUSIONS: Education along with the possible implementation of an EWSS within the VHA EHR was associated with improvement in unadjusted and adjusted inpatient mortality at MRVAMC. This may be an effective approach for patients with sepsis.