Medical Device Integration Blog

The Face of Sepsis

Posted by Cyndi Coyne, RN on Jun 07, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

Sepsis is a truly devastating condition. As an ICU nurse, I have seen first-hand how it can ravage a body. I have cared for patients that, despite the best treatment and heroic measures, did not survive. It can appear, seemingly, from out of nowhere and can strike perfectly healthy individuals.

My first encounter with someone with sepsis was many years ago, as a medical assistant in family practice, before entering nursing school. I answered one of the hundreds of phone calls that came into the office daily. It was the father of a young woman; both were long-time patients that I knew them well. He didn’t sound particularly concerned and just went on to explain that his daughter had been having flu-like symptoms throughout the weekend.

At first, I accepted his “flu” assessment and began to give the usual instructions we tended to give patients with viral infections, but something in my gut told me this was something different. Instead, I told him to bring her in to the office so the doctor could see her in between his other scheduled patients.

When they arrived I could immediately see why I felt so uneasy earlier on the phone. She looked awful….very pale, extremely weak, not to mention confused. This was definitely more than just “the flu”. We escorted her into a room and while the nurse got her vital signs, I interrupted the physician who was seeing another patient. “We need you in room three,” I told him. He immediately went in to exam her and came out of the room a few minutes later and said, “Call an ambulance and get the ED physician on the phone for me.”  

After being transported to the hospital via EMS she was admitted with the diagnosis of sepsis. She spent several days in the ICU and for a while they thought she might lose her limbs, if she didn’t lose her life.

The cause was never determined.

Luckily, due to the skill, training and dedication of an entire treatment team of physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and more, she survived and without any residual symptoms. Sadly, though, there are so many who don’t.

The numbers tell us that every year millions develop and die from sepsis. It represents someone with a family and friends who love and care about them. They are your neighbor, your pastor, your sister, or your son.

Evidence links early intervention and treatment to better outcomes. Hours, even minutes, really count and can make the difference between full recovery and death. Advancements in early detection are being made through predictive analytics with the support of regulatory actions and sepsis-awareness community efforts. Healthcare organizations, such as North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, are seeing success with notable results of a 16.4% reduction in sepsis related mortalities as a result of modifying complex guidelines and metrics in the emergency departments.

Even those who survive can have life-long, debilitating effects including amputation of limbs, permanent organ damage, difficulties with cognition, and memory loss.  It is critical to provide tools to clinicians that will quickly and accurately identify sepsis in its earliest stages because it truly saves lives.


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Tags: Nurses, Nursing Stories, Clinical Analytics, Sepsis, Predictive Analytics

Raising Awareness of Sepsis: Every Minute Counts!

Posted by Susan Niemeier, MHA, BSN, RN on Apr 23, 2014 @ 01:00 PM

It’s not every day that a governor mandates legislation to improve the timely diagnosis and treatment of Sepsis, a whole-body inflammation caused by an infection. But that is exactly what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo did late last year in response to the highly publicized tragic death of Rory Staunton, a 12-year old child who succumbed to the condition. This heartbreaking case has brought increased attention to this little-known issue.

Sepsis is a serious medical emergency caused by a body’s overwhelming toxic response to an infection. When a person has an infection of any kind, even from a small cut or nick at a salon, the infection may enter the body where it can grow quickly. In most cases, the immune system battles the infection on its own. In other cases, however, the infection and the immune response trigger a systemic inflammation known as Sepsis, which—if not diagnosed and treated early and effectively—can interfere with the function of vital organs including the heart, liver, and kidneys, and lead to organ failure and even death.

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Tags: Clinical Analytics, Sepsis, ACT

A Nurse's Intuition

Posted by Karen Lund, RN BSN on Apr 16, 2014 @ 01:30 PM

We develop an interesting set of skills as nurses. We have that 6th “early warning sense” … intuition, if you will … when something just isn’t right with a patient. Patient deterioration is often difficult to assess because of the complex nature of patient care and the need for accurate assessment skills. I had a septuagenarian nursing instructor who said we were never allowed to tell a doctor “there’s something wrong with the patient.” We had to describe the signs and symptoms that made us believe the patient was in trouble. This invaluable lesson created stronger relationships between the nurses and doctors, while being beneficial to the patients.

As nurses we use all our senses and our powers of observation to help us care for patients. But to do this, it requires us to be in the room with the patient. We see the color changes on a patient’s skin. We hear what they’re saying to us and their breathing patterns. We can smell the various scents of a patient’s condition as soon as we enter the room. Our sense of touch can detect a patient with a fever before taking their temperature. I won’t cover the sense of taste here… except to say we greatly appreciate the treats families bring into us.

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Tags: Nurses, Clinical Analytics, ANALYZE

Capsule’s SmartLinx Foreshadows Future of Data Analytics

Posted by Guest Blogger: Phil Colpas on Mar 25, 2014 @ 01:00 PM

Prior to HIMSS 2014, I attended a Google+ Hangout session in which Capsule’s own Stuart Long and Kevin Phillips discussed their latest project, SmartLinx™, which was unveiled at the HIMSS conference.

Long on the cutting edge of data analytics with its point-of-care (POC) solutions, Capsule has spent the past few years looking at how healthcare policy drives data. With the HiTech Act incentivizing providers to transition from paper to paperless digital records, the healthcare community has become fairly adept at collecting patient data. Effectively utilizing that data, however, has proved problematic.

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Tags: Medical Device Information System, Clinical Analytics

ANALYZE: Tune Up the Meaning, Turn Down the Noise

Posted by Karen Lund, RN BSN on Mar 14, 2014 @ 11:00 AM

Today, rapidly expanding technologies have led to unprecedented advances in almost every field. But once in a while, almost everyone wants to turn off their PDA, tune out the pings, beeps and vibrations and just go offline. In the Information Age, we all have a need to relax and gain perspective.

In technology-laden hospitals, clinicians are bombarded with enormous amounts of information, particularly patient information. Some of it is vital to immediate care decisions, some will be useful in the future, and frankly, some of it’s irrelevant. Often all this information can be too complex and varied to truly absorb and sort through during a busy day spent with multiple patients. Adding to the challenge, clinicians must also consider this data in light of best practice protocols and, perhaps, evidence-based treatment guidelines.

As an aggregator of device data, Capsule believes a key role of a medical device information system (MDIS) should be to help clinicians quickly and easily sort through information to find the data that will have the greatest impact on patient care. When device integration solutions are configured, decisions are made about whether or not to include certain device parameters in the patient record, an early sorting of information. Currently, data thresholds are being set to trigger alarms for physicians and nurses when a measurement reaches a level that calls for patient attention.

Capsule’s SmartLinx MDIS applies technology to going beyond these thresholds to address data overload with sophisticated algorithms and information from “big data” analytics, to help clinicians wade though this sea of information to focus on using data to the greatest value for their patients.   One example is SmartLinx’s innovative “ESP” (Early. Smart. Predictive.) feature. This technology will perform a forward-looking clinical analysis of all patient data for signs of sepsis. When discovered, it will automatically reports to clinicians, who can then act on the information.

In the future, the SmartLinx MDIS will become even smarter, and likely will look inwardly at its own data and use sophisticated analytic models to suggest treatment changes. Of course, capitalizing on years of training and experience, visual cues, and interaction with the patient, clinicians will continue to routinely analyze data independently and draw conclusions. One thing is certain—in the future, we all will need a little help managing the full extent of the information out there. It’s reassuring to know that we may not need to tune-out completely to clear our heads—with a little technology that helps us tune-in to what’s most important.

When it comes to technology, can there be too much of a good thing?

How would you feel about smart technology helping you make decisions you have traditionally made yourself?


Stay tuned for tomorrow's #AONE14 blog post:



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Tags: Medical Device Information System, Clinical Analytics, Sepsis, Operational Analytics, ANALYZE