News Release 

Researchers create model to predict children likely to go into septic shock

Algorithm draws on electronic medical records as soon as patient arrives

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

AURORA, Colo. (Nov. 13, 2019) - Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have developed a unique model allowing them to predict which children arriving in emergency departments are most likely to go into septic shock, a life-threatening condition.

In a new study published today in The Journal of Pediatrics, the researchers detailed how they ran electronic medical records through a modern predictive algorithm to accurately project the likelihood of septic shock.

"No models exist to predict the risk of septic shock upon arrival to the ED, a critical time point for intervention," said the study's lead author Halden Scott, MD, MSCS, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado. "We set out to develop a model of the risk based on patients whom doctors suspected had sepsis upon arrival."

Septic shock happens when a severe infection causes blood pressure to plummet. But too often clinicians fail to recognize early sepsis in time to prevent shock.

The study looked at six pediatric Emergency Department and Urgent Care sites, focusing on patients 60 days to 18-years-old whom doctors suspected might have sepsis, and missed cases of septic shock.

Of the 2,464 visits they analyzed, septic shock occurred in 282 or 11.4%. The new model was able to predict 90% of the cases.

"This model estimated risk of septic shock in children at hospital arrival, earlier than existing models," Scott said. "Using it offers the potential to enhance clinical risk-stratification in the critical moments before a patient begins to deteriorate."

In a high-risk patient, treatment could begin earlier to prevent shock. Sepsis treatment includes antibiotics, fluid resuscitation, close monitoring and hospital admission.

"The model is an equation designed for computer-based calculation, in order to maximize the predictive value of data already in the Electronic Health Record," Scott said.

A recent study in New York state showed that only 24.9% of children with sepsis received what's known as the first hour `bundle' which includes IV fluid, IV antibiotic and blood cultures.

Scott said that study was further evidence that most children fail to get the necessary treatment when it could possibly save their lives.

"The early treatment for sepsis is relatively simple, but if it's not given early a downward spiral of organ failure can begin that is difficult to reverse," she said. "This is why we believe that a predictive model for septic shock is so important to improve early diagnosis, and get early treatment to the high-risk patients for whom it can be life-saving."

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About the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is a world-class medical destination at the forefront of transformative science, medicine, education, and healthcare. The campus encompasses the University of Colorado health professional schools, more than 60 centers and institutes, and two nationally ranked hospitals that treat more than 2 million adult and pediatric patients each year. Innovative, interconnected and highly collaborative, together we deliver life-changing treatments, patient care, professional training, and conduct world-renowned research powered by more than $500 million in research awards. For more information, visit https://www.cuanschutz.edu

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