Patient early warning detection system reduces mortality rates by 35 percent

October 21, 2014 | By Katie Sullivan/Fierce Healthcare

Patient early warning detection system alerts staff to minor changes in a patient’s conditions and can help prevent more serious events down the line and reduce mortality rates.

St. Joseph Mercy Oakland hospital in Michigan implemented a detection system with the overall goal of reducing mortality rates, David Bobryk, clinical informatics project, said in a video interview with Suzanna Hoppszallern, senior editor of Hospitals & Health Networks.

Patients wear a monitor on their wrists that continually tracks their vital signs–blood pressure, respiratory rate, pulse rate, pulse oximetry and body temperature–and sends the information to an electronic health record. The stats then travel to monitors that calculate a wellness index measured from a 0 to 5 scale. If patients’ vitals rank from 0 to 2.9, they’re in the clear “green” zone, but if they jump to 3.0 or above, a dangerous “red” zone, nurses on the unit are alerted to check on the patients.

“This tool helps combine that into a single value and makes it really easy for the clinician–green 0 to 2.9 the patient is doing well–red, 3.0 to 5.0 you need some action on the patient,” Bobryk said during the interview.

While using the tool over the course of a four-year study, Bobryk said the hospital reduced mortality rates by 35 percent, while code blues were cut in half and the average length of stay were cut by 5.3 percent.

Clinicians and staff are sometimes skeptical of new technologies, but Bobryk said the hospital broke down those barriers and resistance by allowing nurses to take the tool home with them and monitor themselves at home. They also included staff and hospital leadership in the design meetings from the very beginning.

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