Sepsis screening is success for the ED

ED nurses at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City answer this question about every patient using an electronic medical record (EMR): "Does the patient have two or more systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria?" If the nurse answers "yes," the next question is, "Does the patient have any organ dysfunction?" A "yes" response prompts the question, "Is the patient showing signs of infection?"

"If all of these are answered affirmatively, the nurse is prompted to start the sepsis protocol order set and notify the physician so that appropriate treatment can be started," says Brian W. Selig, RN, BSN, MHA, CEN, NE-BC, ED nurse manager. "This has helped us to better identify the patient population presenting with sepsis and start treatment much earlier. As a result, we have dramatically lowered our mortality rates from sepsis for patients in the ED."

The proactive screening has proven to be a significant success, Selig says. "The screening questions in our EMR help prompt the nursing staff so they don't forget to look at those criteria on every patient that they see," he says. "Because of this, we have been able identify possible sepsis patients who might have otherwise slipped through the system."