An Algorithm to Save Lives

Feb 12, 2020 at 02:11 am by Melissa

Patients with sepsis at HCA Healthcare hospitals now have a much better chance of survival, thanks to new technology. 

Sepsis Prediction and Optimization of Therapy (SPOT) is an algorithm-driven, real-time alert system designed to detect the earliest signs of sepsis. SPOT identifies patients at risk of sepsis by smoothly integrating into the medical workflow and continuously monitoring vital signs, lab results, nursing reports and other data.

A health condition caused by the body’s chemical response to a deep-seated infection, sepsis can lead to organ damage, septic shock and death. Approximately 270,000 Americans die from sepsis each year, according to Sepsis Alliance, making it the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, it is the No. 1 cause of death in non-cardiac intensive care units in all hospitals. To put it another way, sepsis is more deadly than breast cancer, prostate cancer and AIDS combined.

Because the symptoms of sepsis – including low blood pressure, change in consciousness and rapid breathing – may easily be misinterpreted, they can go unnoticed. The average mortality rate for septic shock is 40%, and that number creeps higher by 4-7% for every hour the condition goes undetected. The highly sensitive SPOT system can detect signs of sepsis that are invisible to humans while also preventing incorrect diagnoses.

“When combinations of lab data consistent with sepsis are detected, SPOT sends an alarm signal to clinicians, prompting them to intervene with potentially life-saving treatment,” said Ray Morales, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, HCA Healthcare’s North Florida Division. “Of course, the system is an aid to patient care, not a replacement for the expertise of a qualified physician. Like a smoke detector, SPOT monitors for signs of an emergency so it can alert patients’ caregivers earlier, accelerating treatment and saving lives.”

Since its introduction, SPOT has been used with 2.5 million patients, including those at HCA Healthcare – Orlando Market facilities (Oviedo Medical Center, Osceola Regional Medical Center, Central Florida Regional Hospital and Poinciana Medical Center). In conjunction with the use of evidence-based clinical interventions, SPOT has helped save an estimated 8,000 lives over the last five years.

The initiative was developed using at-scale and real-time data from across the network of more than 2,000 affiliated care sites, based on approximately 31 million annual patient care episodes. The hospital system is exploring the possibilities for machine learning in detecting other critical conditions such as post-traumatic shock, operative complications and early signs of deterioration in all patients.

“While the sepsis timeline is different for every patient, the sooner they get fluids and antibiotics, the higher their chances are of living through it,” Dr. Morales said. “With this technology, we’re able to surpass national standards by identifying, diagnosing and treating a septic patient within one hour. SPOT is proving to be a life-saving tool in addressing a problem that has plagued hospitals for far too long.”