Electronically Triggered Sepsis Alert in Non-Intensive Care Inpatients Using Modified Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Criteria: A Retrospective Observational Study with In-Depth Analysis of Surgical Patients

Sydne Muratore, Alexandria Coughlan, James K. Glover, Catherine L. Statz, Craig R Weinert, Susan E Kline, Gregory J Beilman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Our center initiated an electronic Sepsis Best Practice Alert (sBPA) protocol to aid in early sepsis detection and treatment. However, surgery alters peri-operative physiology, which may trigger an sBPA for noninfectious causes. This study aimed to provide early evaluation of automated sBPA utility in surgical patients. Methods: This study was a retrospective review of the outcomes of patients admitted to the University of Minnesota Medical Center (but not to the intensive care unit) from August 2015-March 2016 and compared how the sBPA performed in those having and not having surgery. An sBPA prompted nursing to draw blood for an immediate lactate assay if two modified systemic inflammatory response syndrome (mSIRS) criteria or three mSIRS criteria within 24 hours after surgery were met. Physicians were notified if the lactate concentration was >2 mmol/L. Further review was performed of data collected prospectively on the surgical patients. Results: A total of 10,335 patients were admitted (2,158 surgery and 8,177 non-surgery). Of these, 33% of the surgery patients and 35% of the patients not having surgery triggered sBPAs. In surgery patients, 13% of lactate concentrations were >2 mmol/L versus 25% in patients not having surgery. An sBPA was triggered more frequently after procedures with a wound class of 4 (5% vs. 2%), emergency operation (23% vs. 10%), and longer operations (280 min vs. 222 min (p < 0.05 for all). Surgery patients triggering sBPAs had longer hospital stays (9.6 vs. 4.4 days; p < 0.05), more surgical site infections (7% vs. 2%; p < 0.05), and a similar mortality rate (3% vs. 4%; p = 0.15) than those who did not trigger an sBPA. Conclusion: An sBPA fired in a third of all inpatients, and an sBPA that prompted lactate measurements was less likely to be abnormal in surgery patients than in those not having surgery. There was no difference in the mortality rate in surgical patients who fired and those who did not; however, the sBPA did identify patients with a more complicated post-operative course. Further refinements of the electronic trigger should increase BPA specificity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-285
Number of pages8
JournalSurgical infections
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2019



  • SIRS
  • lactate
  • protocol
  • sepsis
  • surgical site infection

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Observational Study

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