Penn State Hershey team improves patient sepsis outcomes through EMR

Dr. Christopher DeFlitch, chief medical information officer, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, presented at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s 19th annual Scientific Symposium on Improving the Quality and Value of Health Care about the Medical Center’s success in reducing sepsis-related deaths by 45 percent.

DeFlitch reported on Penn State Hershey’s approach of a standardized education program and the use of the electronic medical record to detect sepsis earlier. Sepsis is a complication from infection that causes inflammation throughout the body and can lead to organ failure and a blood pressure drop that can cause death. The Medical Center used its electronic medical record system to better identify and alert health care providers of potential inflammation that could point to sepsis.

Through these efforts, the number of sepsis-related deaths dropped by 45 percent over three years and the mean length of stay for all sepsis cases decreased from 13.5 days to 10.9 days.

“Leveraging the electronic medical record for early identification and intervention, and mandatory education, are important features of our program,” DeFlitch said. “This success was thanks to a collaborative effort from our team, including, but not limited to, surgeons, hospitalists, quality experts, physician leadership and hospital administration.”

In 2010, Medical Center leadership identified improvement of sepsis outcomes as an institutional goal.

DeFlitch's presentation was among seven highlighted presentations at the conference, given by leaders at institutions such as Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and others representing statewide health care quality initiatives in Louisiana, New York and Virginia. 

Last Updated December 10, 2013