Skip to main content

Electronic early notification of sepsis in hospitalized ward patients: a study protocol for a stepped-wedge cluster randomized controlled trial

Abstract

Background

To evaluate the effect of screening for sepsis using an electronic sepsis alert vs. no alert in hospitalized ward patients on 90-day in-hospital mortality.

Methods

The SCREEN trial is designed as a stepped-wedge cluster randomized controlled trial. Hospital wards (total of 45 wards, constituting clusters in this design) are randomized to have active alert vs. masked alert, 5 wards at a time, with each 5 wards constituting a sequence. The study consists of ten 2-month periods with a phased introduction of the intervention. In the first period, all wards have a masked alert for 2 months. Afterwards the intervention (alert system) is implemented in a new sequence every 2-month period until the intervention is implemented in all sequences. The intervention includes the implementation of an electronic alert system developed in the hospital electronic medical records based on the quick sequential organ failure assessment (qSOFA). The alert system sends notifications of “possible sepsis alert” to the bedside nurse, charge nurse, and primary medical team and requires an acknowledgment in the health information system from the bedside nurse and physician. The calculated sample size is 65,250. The primary endpoint is in-hospital mortality by 90 days.

Discussion

The trial started on October 1, 2019, and is expected to complete patient follow-up by the end of October 2021.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04078594. Registered on September 6, 2019

Peer Review reports

Background

Sepsis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among hospitalized patients, and the outcome of affected patients is greatly dependent on the time-sensitive administration of appropriate antimicrobials, fluid resuscitation, and source control [1, 2]. Using machine learning analytics, a retrospective multicenter study evaluated the impact of delaying the implementation of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign 3-h bundle elements in 5072 adult patients with severe sepsis or septic shock [3]. The study found that the time delays significantly associated with mortality were 20 min for serum lactate, 50 min for blood culture, 100 min for intravenous crystalloids, and 125 min for antibiotic therapy [3]. Unfortunately, studies have shown that these elements of sepsis management are often delayed because of delayed sepsis recognition [4,5,6].

To facilitate early sepsis recognition, the Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines have recommended that hospitals have performance improvement programs for sepsis, including sepsis screening for acutely ill and high-risk patients [7]. Several observational studies have demonstrated that screening patients on hospital wards for sepsis was associated with improved processes of care and reduced mortality (please see also Supplemenrtary Introduction, Supplementary File). More recently, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) at two medical-surgical intensive care units (ICUs) compared an electronic sepsis alert with the same alert combined with a machine learning algorithm (experimental group) [8]. On receiving an alert, the care team evaluated the patient and initiated the severe sepsis bundle, if appropriate [8]. The length of stay decreased from 13.0 days in the control group to 10.3 days in the experimental group (p = 0.04) and hospital mortality by 12.4% (p = 0.02) [8]. A before-after study evaluated the impact of a multidisciplinary sepsis education program targeting sepsis recognition by using both the quick sequential organ failure assessment (qSOFA) and organ dysfunction criteria with nurse empowerment to activate the rapid response team (RRT) when sepsis was suspected [9]. The study found that the time to recognition (qSOFA-to-RRT) improved from a median of 11.8 h (interquartile range 3.4, 34.3) in the pre-intervention phase to 1.7 h (interquartile range 0, 11.7) in the post-intervention phase (p = 0.005) [9]. The time from qSOFA to antibiotics improved from 1.4 h (interquartile range:− 2.4, 6.2) to − 4.7 h (interquartile range − 25.4, 1.8, p < 0.01) [9]. Using qSOFA, compliance improved for antibiotics administration within 3 h from 60% to 87% (p = 0.02) [9]. A systematic review of 16 observational studies found that digital alert systems for sepsis were associated with a reduction in length of hospital stay [10].

On the other hand, some data questioned the benefit of sepsis screening among hospitalized patients. A systematic review of six studies of electronic and paper-based sepsis screening suggested improvement in processes of care including the use of diagnostics [11]. However, the effect on treatment (fluid resuscitation and antibiotic administration) and outcome measures was less consistent [11]. Most existing studies are pre-post intervention studies [6, 12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20], and showed large reductions in mortality even with modest improvement in the compliance with the bundle. One of the potential explanations is that early detection leads to the inclusion of mild cases (ascertainment bias) and therefore artificially improving mortality rates. Therefore, the observed effect may be exaggerated or even maybe solely related to this phenomenon. Two RCTs showed no benefit of screening for sepsis in the ICU setting. A trial in a medical ICU (n = 442) showed that electronic screening using modified systemic inflammatory response syndrome vs. usual care was not associated with a difference in time to new antibiotics, amount of fluid administered, ICU length of stay, hospital length of stay, and mortality [21]. Another trial in medical-surgical ICU patients (n = 417) found no difference between the electronic tool and usual care in the primary outcome of time to completion of all indicated Surviving Sepsis Campaign 6-h Sepsis Resuscitation Bundle elements, ICU mortality, ICU-free days, and ventilator-free days [22]. Besides, RCTs that tested real-time electronic alerts for clinical deterioration, which included sepsis in ward patients, found no significant difference in outcomes [23, 24]. Finally, screening for sepsis may lead to unintended consequences, such as overtreatment. One study found that the implementation of an electronic sepsis alert was associated with increase in antibiotic use and healthcare facility–onset Clostridium difficile infection [25]. Therefore, it is unclear whether screening for sepsis using an electronic alert in hospitalized patients improves outcomes, and an RCT is needed. The objective of the Stepped-wedge Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of Electronic Early Notification of Sepsis in Hospitalized Ward Patients (SCREEN Trial) is to evaluate the effect of electronic screening for sepsis compared to no screening among hospitalized ward patients on all-cause 90-day in-hospital mortality. Our hypothesis is that screening for sepsis reduces all-cause 90-day in-hospital mortality.

Methods

Settings

The study is conducted in the 5 Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs (MNGHA) hospitals (King Abdulaziz Medical City - Riyadh, King Abdulaziz Medical City - Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed Bin Abdul Aziz Hospital - Al Madinah, King Abdulaziz Hospital - Al Ahsa, and Imam Abdulrahman Al Faisal Hospital - Dammam) (Supplementary file Table S1). The MNGHA hospitals share an integrated electronic medical record (EMR) system, BESTCare, which has been implemented as a joint venture with the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, South Korea. Its critical applications include clinical documentation, computerized physician order entry, clinical decision support system, and clinical data warehouse. The system is also interfaced with the hospital’s vital signs measurement devices.

Study design

The SCREEN trial is designed as a stepped-wedge cluster RCT. Hospital wards (total of 45 wards, constituting clusters in this design) are randomized to have active alert vs. masked alert, 5 wards at a time, with every 5 wards constituting a sequence. The study consists of ten 2-month periods with a phased introduction of the intervention. In the first period, all wards had a masked alert for 2 months (see the “Sample size” section). After the baseline period, the intervention (alert system) is implemented in a new sequence every 2 months until the intervention is implemented in all sequences (Fig. 1). This design is suitable for quality improvement projects and incorporates the comparison between the intervention group and the control group, both horizontally (intervention clusters and control clusters at the same time) and vertically over time (the same cluster before and after the intervention). In addition, by having the masked alert, an additional comparison between patients with masked and active alerts will be performed. A SPIRIT figure is included in Fig. 2, with a checklist included as a Additional file 1.

Fig. 1
figure1

SCREEN trial design as a stepped-wedge cluster randomized trial

Fig. 2
figure2

SPIRIT figure for the SCREEN trial

This study was approved by the MNGHA Institutional Review Board (IRB). The study has been registered in ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04078594).

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Ward level inclusion and exclusion criteria

Inclusion criterion

  1. 1.

    Inpatient wards, defined as wards used to manage inpatients, in the five MNGHA hospitals

Exclusion criteria

  1. 1.

    Cardiology, transplant, pediatric, and obstetric wards

  2. 2.

    ICUs and emergency departments

  3. 3.

    Operating rooms

  4. 4.

    Outpatient clinics

  5. 5.

    Daycare wards, endoscopy, outpatient procedure areas, and hemodialysis units

Patient-level inclusion and exclusion criteria

Inclusion criteria

  1. 1.

    Aged 14 years or older

  2. 2.

    Checked in as inpatient status to one of the study wards

Exclusion criteria

  1. 1.

    No commitment for full life support at the time of arrival to the study ward (designated as do-not-resuscitate status)

Interventions

The sepsis alert

In the study wards, vital signs are logged into the electronic medical record (BESTCare system) every 4 h and the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) every 12 h. We developed a sepsis alert in the hospital information system based on qSOFA. The alert works as follows (Fig. 3 and Tables S2-S3, Supplementary File):

  1. 1.

    The screening tool automatically scans the documented vital signs and GCS and assigns one point for low blood pressure (systolic blood pressure ≤ 100 mmHg), increased respiratory rate (≥ 22 breaths/min), or altered mentation (Glasgow Coma Scale < 15).

  2. 2.

    If the total score is 2 or more based on the above criteria documented within 12 h, the system generates an electronic alert.

  3. 3.

    This alert results in the following:

    1. (a)

      In the bedside nurse workflow: The alert appears in the nurse worklist as “possible sepsis alert,” and a pop-up message appears requesting the nurse to notify the primary medical team and to document that a physician has received the message.

    2. (b)

      In the treating physician workflow: A pop-up message appears on the physician screen when the patient’s file is accessed as “possible sepsis alert.” The physician is requested to assess the patient condition and document whether the clinical condition is consistent with sepsis or not. Other options include “remind me later” and “I am not from the primary team.” By responding “yes,” the sepsis alert is closed and the system is deactivated for 24 h. By responding “no,” the system is deactivated for 12 h only. By responding “remind me later” or “I am not from the primary team,” the pop-up message appears on each subsequent physician access of the file (Fig. 3).

    3. (c)

      The ward charge nurse gets a notification on a mobile device (iPod) that has a custom-built application for an immediate alert with visual and sound notification.

    4. (d)

      If the goals of care for a given patient are modified to do-not-resuscitate, the system is deactivated for that patient.

  4. 4.

    Data are also used to create a dashboard for each ward with the following indicators:

    1. (a)

      Number of alerts.

    2. (b)

      Percent of alerts with documented notification by the nurse to the primary medical team and time to notification.

    3. (c)

      Percent of alerts with documented assessment by the physician and time to assessment.

    4. (d)

      Access to the dashboard is provided to all nursing and physician managers. Reports and feedback are provided every 2 weeks, with frequent meetings to review the results and discuss the approaches for improvement in the involved wards.

Fig. 3
figure3

Workflow of the electronic alert

Intervention group (active alert)

In this group of wards, the alert system is active, which means that the alerts are visible to the treating team as described above. The alert prompts a nurse-to-physician communication and a physician assessment of patients.

Control group (masked alert)

In this group of wards, the alert system will be inactive in the EMR frontend for the treating team and will remain active in the backend of the EMR. Sepsis recognition is according to the existing practice. This enables collecting data on the sepsis alert patients whether they are on active or masked control wards.

Co-interventions

A hospital-wide sepsis awareness campaign in all 5 hospitals was started at the beginning of the study with training sessions open to all staff on the importance of timely interventions for sepsis. Project in-service training sessions are provided to the involved medical and nursing departments at the beginning of each period. Monthly webinars are conducted with active ward leaders. An intranet page has been developed with educational resources (videos, presentations, documents, posters, and related links) that explain this project and provide guidance. The medical management and assessment are at the discretion of the treating team. However, this project adopts the 2016 Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines and the hour 1 bundle, but without any specific monitoring of bundle compliance [7, 26, 27].

Randomization

The five hospitals have collectively 46 eligible wards; two wards were merged due to similarities in order to create 9 sequences of 5 wards each. Wards are randomized to receive the intervention as a 5-ward sequence each 2-month period according to a computer-generated non-stratified concealed list. The randomization list was maintained with a research coordinator who was not involved in this trial, and the ward allocation remained concealed from the research and clinical teams throughout the study and was revealed for a given sequence only 1 month before the implementation of the intervention to allow training (Fig. 1).

Data

Data extraction

All data will be extracted from the EMR. Data will be extracted as per the definitions in Table 1 and Supplementary file Tables S4-S10.

Table 1 Time windows for data extraction. All data points within the time window will be extracted

Baseline data, physiological parameters and treatments at baseline, and processes measures

These variables are listed in the Supplementary Methods and Tables S8 and S9.

Outcomes

Primary outcome (Supplementary file Table S10)

  • All-cause in-hospital mortality within 90 days

Secondary outcomes

Outcome measures

  • Hospital length of stay (LOS), censored at 90 days

  • Transfer to ICU within 90 days (ITT cohort) and 14 days of alert (alert cohort)

  • ICU-free days in the first 90 days (ITT cohort and alert cohort)

  • Critical Care Response Team (CCRT) activation within 90 days (ITT cohort) and 14 days of alert (alert cohort)

  • Cardiac arrest within 90 days (ITT cohort) and 14 days of alert (alert cohort)

  • The need for mechanical ventilation, vasopressor therapy, and incident renal replacement therapy within 90 days (ITT cohort) and 14 days of alert (alert cohort)

Balancing measures/safety outcomes

  • Antibiotic-free days within 90 days (ITT cohort and alert cohort)

  • The acquisition of multidrug-resistant organisms within 90 days (ITT cohort and alert cohort)

  • Clostridium difficile infection within 90 days (ITT cohort and alert cohort)

Sample size

The sample size for this stepped-wedge cluster-randomized design was calculated for 45 clusters, each 5 clusters constitute a sequence with 10 periods (including one baseline period) using the Power Analysis and Sample Size (PASS) software (PASS 15 Power Analysis and Sample Size Software (2017), NCSS, LLC. Kaysville, UT, USA, ncss.com/software/pass). After a baseline period, a new sequence of 5 clusters (wards) switch from the control group to the intervention group at the beginning of each subsequent period. Using historical data obtained from the development domain of the EMR for ward patients admitted from 01 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, we calculated a baseline in-hospital mortality rate by day 90 of 3.13%. Based on the same dataset, 18.3% of eligible ward patients had an alert based on the qSOFA criteria [28] with an in-hospital mortality of 8.16% compared to 2% in the patients with no qSOFA. For sample size calculations, we made the following assumptions: (A) the impact of the intervention on mortality occurs only in patients who have the alert, (B) only half of the patients with the alert have sepsis, (C) 90% of deaths among the patients with the alert occurred among septic patients, (D) early intervention resulting from the alert will reduce the in-hospital mortality by 50%, i.e., from 8.16 to 4.08% in patients with sepsis and would lead to an overall change in in-hospital mortality for the whole cohort from 3.13 to 2.46%, (E) 80% power using two-sided Wald Z-test and significance level of 5%, and (F) an intra-cluster correlation (ICC, a measure of the relatedness of cluster) of 0.22 as estimated from the same retrospective electronic database. As the primary analysis would be adjusted for the random effect to account for the correlation between patients within the same cluster, we used the estimation variance (σ2), which was calculated from responses (P1, P2), as the within-cluster variance (σw2) as suggested by Hussey and Hughes (2007) and Hemming and Girling (2014) [29, 30]. As such, a reduction of in-mortality in hospital by 90 days by 0.67% (from 3.13 to 2.46%) requires a total sample size of 65,250 subjects (average of 1450 subjects per cluster with an average of 145 subjects per cluster per period). With all five hospitals combined, this is expected to require 20 months (2 months per period).

Statistical analysis

For the SCREEN trial, the analysis will be implemented under the guiding principles of the ICH E9 for the analysis of randomized controlled trials [31]. The stepped-wedge design is essentially a matched design with before and after comparisons for each unit of randomization (or cluster), which is the ward in this study (additional information is in the Supplementary Methods)

Study cohorts

Intention-to-treat cohort

We will report patient flow according to the CONSORT flowchart for the stepped-wedge cluster-randomized trial by allocated sequence and period. The intention-to-treat (ITT) cohort includes all eligible patients admitted to the eligible wards. The ITT analysis also implies that patients in the ITT cohort in the wards belonging to a particular period will be analyzed in accordance with their planned randomization regardless of what happens during the trial. For example, if a ward was planned to have the intervention during a given period and for technical reasons that alert system was not operational, patients in that ward during that period will be analyzed as receiving an active alert. Although it is not anticipated that there will be wards that cross over their study cohort (i.e., change from alert to non-alert or vice versa), any such instances will be documented. Patients who are transferred from one ward to another will be counted as part of the first ward. The primary analysis will be based on this population.

The study was launched in October 2019. During the study period in 2020–2021, and in response to the surge in the number of hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) [32], some of the wards had to be converted to ICUs, making them ineligible for the study intervention. These wards will be excluded from the ITT cohort while used as ICUs. During the peak of COVID-19 cases, total admissions to the wards declined substantially to less than 50%; therefore, 2 consecutive periods (starting June 2019) were extended from 2 to 3 months each to account for the decline in cluster size. In addition, some wards were designated for admission of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. Given the higher mortality associated with such designation, and because such designation would likely be over-represented in the intervention group, data on a ward designated as a COVID-19 ward will be documented as a ward-level variable for inclusion as an adjustment in the primary model (as discussed below). Additionally, patient-level data on COVID-19 diagnosis will be also obtained.

Alert cohort

This cohort represents the subset of ITT patients who have the alert whether in the intervention wards or the control wards.

Analysis of the primary endpoint

The analysis for the primary outcome will be conducted on the ITT cohort. The all-cause in-hospital mortality by day 90 will be compared between the intervention group and the control group at the individual level with the use of a mixed-effect logistic regression model with the jack-knife method to estimate standard errors to account for grouping within clusters [29, 33]. We will use a generalized linear mixed model with a binary distribution and a log-link function to estimate the relative risk as a measure of effect. We will include two levels of random effects to account for nested clustering within wards and periods and two levels of fixed effects: hospitals and COVID-19 ward status. The model will be selected as the best model with a unique covariance structure that produces the lowest Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) value. The covariance structures that will be considered in the model are the first order of autocorrelation covariance structure, unstructured covariance structure, Toeplitz covariance structure, and variance component structure (VC). The random coefficients will be modeled using G-side random effects and the subject-specific estimates will be obtained by defining the appropriate variance-covariance structure.

Analysis of other outcomes

The categorical outcomes will be summarized between the intervention and control groups using number and percentages and analyzed in a similar manner as done for the primary outcome. The continuous outcomes will be summarized using mean and standard deviation or median and inter-quartile ranges (IQR) and will be analyzed using the mixed-effect Poisson model. We will include two levels of random effects to account for nested clustering within wards and periods and two levels of fixed effects: hospitals and COVID-19 ward status.

Subgroups analysis

To address the concern about contamination, we will conduct a sensitivity analysis excluding all patients in the control group in the 90 days before crossing over to the intervention group. Because there are fewer than 50 clusters, we will conduct a sensitivity analysis using a small sample correction with a Kenward-Roger method [34]. We will conduct a sensitivity analysis adjusting for the following covariates: type of wards (medical, surgical, oncology, and mixed), age, baseline systolic blood pressure, baseline respiratory rate, GCS, Charlson comorbidity index, and COVID-19 status. For the latter analysis, we will use imputation for missing variables. In addition, we will conduct also a complete case sensitivity analysis. We will conduct a sensitivity analysis excluding the periods in which wards were assigned as COVID-19 ward.

We will analyze the primary outcome of all-cause hospital mortality by day 90 across predefined subgroups using the same model of the primary analysis. The predefined subgroups include age ≤ 65 years and > 65 years; patients with documented infection source (including ICD-10 AM for pneumonia, urinary tract infection, skin and soft tissue infection, intra-abdominal infection, or other infections); patients with no documented infection or infection source; patients admitted to medical, surgical, oncology, and mixed wards; alert within 48 h of admission and after 48 h of admission; and patients admitted to COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 wards (Table S6). The results of the test of interaction will be reported.

All analyses will be conducted with SAS version 9.4. There will be no interim analysis due to the nature of implementation.

Discussion

This trial evaluates the value of electronic screening for sepsis in patients hospitalized in the wards. Screening for sepsis could be of substantial benefit as sepsis is frequent in hospitalized patients, is often under-recognized, and is a common cause of organ dysfunction and death, and earlier appropriate management is associated with improved outcomes [3,4,5,6]. It is estimated that 32% of sepsis cases are identified in hospital wards [35], such that hospital-onset sepsis complicates 1 in 200 hospitalizations with an associated mortality of > 30% [36, 37]. Sepsis management is often delayed among patients hospitalized in the ward [38, 39]. A study found that lactate levels were measured within the mandated window in only 32% of patients with severe sepsis in the ward compared with 55% in the ICU and 79% in the ED [39]. Delayed lactate level measurement was associated with longer time to antibiotic administration [39]. The evidence for electronic alerts to recognize sepsis early and improve care processes and outcomes in general ward patients is modest [40], which affirms the need for an RCT. The stepped-wedge approach to include wards in this trial avoids several pitfalls and retains controlled data elements and randomization.

Real-time electronic screening for sepsis using the EMR provides multiple advantages over other methods, as it is considered a low-cost solution for more reliable, reproducible, unbiased, and sustainable screening in large hospitals [41]. However, the challenges encountered with our electronic alert development and implementation included resource allocation, changing and unagreed-upon sepsis screening tools (qSOFA and SIRS), charting behaviors, alert fatigue (false positive), inappropriate response (false negative), and differences in health care delivery models [42, 43]. We have conducted multiple presentations to ward medical and nursing staff and provided online materials on the alert system and sepsis management in line with the Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines [7, 26]. The actual management of patients with positive sepsis alert was left to the discretion of the treating team. We also utilized dashboards during the study to provide opportunities for ward medical and nursing leaders to review and improve provided care.

The SCREEN trial provides an opportunity for a novel trial design and analysis of routinely collected and entered data to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention (sepsis alert) for a common medical problem (sepsis in ward patients). Its results may open the door for other trials on other interventions in other conditions.

Trial status

The trial started on October 1, 2019, and is expected to complete patient follow-up by the end of October 2021. The study was conducted according to the protocol in its 3rd version dated September 15, 2019. There have been minor protocol modifications after starting the trial. The first was extending two periods because of the COVID-19 pandemic as described above, which was communicated at the time with involved wards. An additional amendment was made in August 2021 in response to the peer-review process of the statistical analysis plan. The amendment included a few clarifications on the study outcomes and a change in the approach to calculate the sample size resulting in the change in the sample size from 62,550 to 65,250. These changes have no impact on the study conduct.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets will be available from the corresponding author as per the regulations of KAIMRC.

Abbreviations

CCRT:

Critical Care Response Team

ED:

Emergency department

EMR:

Electronic medical record

ICU:

Intensive care unit

ITT:

Intention-to-treat

LOS:

Length of stay

qSOFA:

Quick sequential organ failure assessment

SIRS:

Systemic inflammatory response syndrome

SOFA:

Sequential organ failure assessment

References

  1. 1.

    Dellinger RP, Levy M, Rhodes A, Annane D, Gerlach H, Opal S, et al. Surviving Sepsis Campaign: international guidelines for management of severe sepsis and septic shock, 2012. Intensive Care Med. 2013;39(2):165–228. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-012-2769-8.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Rivers E, Nguyen B, Havstad S, Ressler J, Muzzin A, Knoblich B, et al. Early goal-directed therapy in the treatment of severe sepsis and septic shock. N Engl J Med. 2001;345(19):1368–77. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa010307.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Pruinelli L, Westra BL, Yadav P, Hoff A, Steinbach M, Kumar V, et al. Delay within the 3-hour Surviving Sepsis Campaign Guideline on mortality for patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. Crit Care Med. 2018;46(4):500–5. https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000002949.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Phua J, Koh Y, Du B, Tang YQ, Divatia JV, Tan CC, et al. Management of severe sepsis in patients admitted to Asian intensive care units: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2011;342(jun13 1):d3245. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d3245.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Rhodes A, Phillips G, Beale R, Cecconi M, Chiche JD, De Backer D, et al. The surviving sepsis campaign bundles and outcome: results from the international multicentre prevalence study on sepsis (the IMPreSS study). Intensive Care Med. 2015;41(9):1620–8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-015-3906-y.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Levy MM, Dellinger RP, Townsend SR, Linde-Zwirble WT, Marshall JC, Bion J, et al. The Surviving Sepsis Campaign: results of an international guideline-based performance improvement program targeting severe sepsis. Intensive Care Med. 2010;36(2):222–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-009-1738-3.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Rhodes A, Evans LE, Alhazzani W, Levy MM, Antonelli M, Ferrer R, et al. Surviving Sepsis Campaign: international guidelines for management of sepsis and septic shock: 2016. Intensive Care Med. 2017;43(3):304–77.

  8. 8.

    Shimabukuro DW, Barton CW, Feldman MD, Mataraso SJ, Das R. Effect of a machine learning-based severe sepsis prediction algorithm on patient survival and hospital length of stay: a randomised clinical trial. BMJ Open Respir Res. 2017;4(1):e000234. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjresp-2017-000234.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Raines K, Berrios RAS, Guttendorf J. Sepsis education initiative targeting qSOFA screening for non-ICU patients to improve sepsis recognition and time to treatment. J Nurs Care Qual. 2019;34(4):318–24. https://doi.org/10.1097/NCQ.0000000000000379.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Joshi M, Ashrafian H, Arora S, Khan S, Cooke G, Darzi A. Digital alerting and outcomes in patients with sepsis: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2019;21(12):e15166. https://doi.org/10.2196/15166.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Alberto L, Marshall AP, Walker R, Aitken LM. Screening for sepsis in general hospitalized patients: a systematic review. J Hospital Infect. 2017;96(4):305–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2017.05.005.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Castellanos-Ortega A, Suberviola B, Garcia-Astudillo LA, Holanda MS, Ortiz F, Llorca J, et al. Impact of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign protocols on hospital length of stay and mortality in septic shock patients: results of a three-year follow-up quasi-experimental study. Crit Care Med. 2010;38(4):1036–43. https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181d455b6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Ferrer R, Artigas A, Levy MM, Blanco J, Gonzalez-Diaz G, Garnacho-Montero J, et al. Improvement in process of care and outcome after a multicenter severe sepsis educational program in Spain. JAMA. 2008;299(19):2294–303. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.299.19.2294.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Giuliano KK, Lecardo M, Staul L. Impact of protocol watch on compliance with the surviving sepsis campaign. Am J Crit Care. 2011;20(4):313–21. https://doi.org/10.4037/ajcc2011421.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Memon JI, Rehmani RS, Alaithan AM, El Gammal A, Lone TM, Ghorab K, et al. Impact of 6-hour sepsis resuscitation bundle compliance on hospital mortality in a Saudi hospital. Crit Care Res Pract. 2012;2012:273268.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Na S, Kuan WS, Mahadevan M, Li CH, Shrikhande P, Ray S, et al. Implementation of early goal-directed therapy and the surviving sepsis campaign resuscitation bundle in Asia. Int J Qual Health Care. 2012;24(5):452–62. https://doi.org/10.1093/intqhc/mzs045.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Schramm GE, Kashyap R, Mullon JJ, Gajic O, Afessa B. Septic shock: a multidisciplinary response team and weekly feedback to clinicians improve the process of care and mortality. Crit Care Med. 2011;39(2):252–8. https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181ffde08.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Shiramizo SC, Marra AR, Durao MS, Paes AT, Edmond MB, Pavao dos Santos OF. Decreasing mortality in severe sepsis and septic shock patients by implementing a sepsis bundle in a hospital setting. PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e26790.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Wang Z, Xiong Y, Schorr C, Dellinger RP. Impact of sepsis bundle strategy on outcomes of patients suffering from severe sepsis and septic shock in China. J Emerg Med. 2013;44(4):735–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.07.084.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Laguna-Perez A, Chilet-Rosell E, Delgado Lacosta M, Alvarez-Dardet C, Uris Selles J, Munoz-Mendoza CL. Clinical pathway intervention compliance and effectiveness when used in the treatment of patients with severe sepsis and septic shock at an intensive care unit in Spain. Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. 2012;20(4):635–43. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-11692012000400002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Hooper MH, Weavind L, Wheeler AP, Martin JB, Gowda SS, Semler MW, et al. Randomized trial of automated, electronic monitoring to facilitate early detection of sepsis in the intensive care unit. Crit Care Med. 2012;40(7):2096–101. https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0b013e318250a887.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Semler MW, Weavind L, Hooper MH, Rice TW, Gowda SS, Nadas A, et al. An electronic tool for the evaluation and treatment of sepsis in the ICU: a randomized controlled trial. Crit Care Med. 2015;43(8):1595–602. https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000001020.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Umscheid CA, Betesh J, VanZandbergen C, Hanish A, Tait G, Mikkelsen ME, et al. Development, implementation, and impact of an automated early warning and response system for sepsis. J Hosp Med. 2015;10(1):26–31. https://doi.org/10.1002/jhm.2259.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Kollef MH, Chen Y, Heard K, LaRossa GN, Lu C, Martin NR, et al. A randomized trial of real-time automated clinical deterioration alerts sent to a rapid response team. J Hosp Med. 2014;9(7):424–9. https://doi.org/10.1002/jhm.2193.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Hiensch R, Poeran J, Saunders-Hao P, Adams V, Powell CA, Glasser A, et al. Impact of an electronic sepsis initiative on antibiotic use and health care facility–onset Clostridium difficile infection rates. Am J Infect Control. 2017;45(10):1091–100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2017.04.005.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Levy MM, Evans LE, Rhodes A. The surviving sepsis campaign bundle: 2018 update. Intensive Care Med. 2018;44(6):925–8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-018-5085-0.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospital toolkit for adult sepsis surveillance. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.

  28. 28.

    Singer M, Deutschman CS, Seymour CW, Shankar-Hari M, Annane D, Bauer M, et al. The Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis And Septic Shock (Sepsis-3). Jama. 2016;315(8):801–10. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2016.0287.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Hussey MA, Hughes JP. Design and analysis of stepped wedge cluster randomized trials. Contemp Clin Trials. 2007;28(2):182–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cct.2006.05.007.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Hemming K, Haines TP, Chilton PJ, Girling AJ, Lilford RJ. The stepped wedge cluster randomised trial: rationale, design, analysis, and reporting. BMJ. 2015;350(feb06 1):h391. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h391.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    ICH E9 Statistical Principles for Clinical Trials. https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/scientific-guideline/ich-e-9-statistical-principles-clinical-trials-step-5_en.pdf. Accessed 10 November 2020.

  32. 32.

    Richardson S, Hirsch JS, Narasimhan M, Crawford JM, McGinn T, Davidson KW, et al. Presenting characteristics, comorbidities, and outcomes among 5700 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the New York City area. JAMA. 2020;323(20):2052–9. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.6775.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Shakeshaft A, Doran C, Petrie D, Breen C, Havard A, Abudeen A, et al. The effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harm: a cluster randomised controlled trial. PLoS Med. 2014;11(3):e1001617. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Thompson JA, Hemming K, Forbes A, Fielding K, Hayes R. Comparison of small-sample standard-error corrections for generalised estimating equations in stepped wedge cluster randomised trials with a binary outcome: a simulation study. Stat Methods Med Res. 2021;30(2):425–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/0962280220958735.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Levy MM, Rhodes A, Phillips GS, Townsend SR, Schorr CA, Beale R, et al. Surviving Sepsis Campaign: association between performance metrics and outcomes in a 7.5-year study. Intensive Care Med. 2014;40(11):1623–33. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-014-3496-0.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Rhee C, Wang R, Zhang Z, Fram D, Kadri SS, Klompas M, et al. Epidemiology of hospital-onset versus community-onset sepsis in US hospitals and association with mortality: a retrospective analysis using electronic clinical data. Crit Care Med. 2019;47(9):1169–76. https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000003817.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Rothman M, Levy M, Dellinger RP, Jones SL, Fogerty RL, Voelker KG, et al. Sepsis as 2 problems: identifying sepsis at admission and predicting onset in the hospital using an electronic medical record–based acuity score. J Crit Care. 2017;38:237–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrc.2016.11.037.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Zhang D, Micek ST, Kollef MH. Time to appropriate antibiotic therapy is an independent determinant of postinfection ICU and hospital lengths of stay in patients with sepsis. Crit Care Med. 2015;43(10):2133–40. https://doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000001140.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Han X, Edelson DP, Snyder A, Pettit N, Sokol S, Barc C, et al. Implications of centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock Early Management Bundle and Initial Lactate Measurement on the Management of Sepsis. Chest. 2018;154(2):302–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2018.03.025.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Makam AN, Nguyen OK, Auerbach AD. Diagnostic accuracy and effectiveness of automated electronic sepsis alert systems: a systematic review. J Hosp Med. 2015;10(6):396–402. https://doi.org/10.1002/jhm.2347.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Thompson DS, Oberteuffer R, Dorman T. Sepsis alert and diagnostic system: integrating clinical systems to enhance study coordinator efficiency. Comp Inform Nurs. 2003;21(1):22–6 quiz 7-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Schorr C, Odden A, Evans L, Escobar GJ, Gandhi S, Townsend S, et al. Implementation of a multicenter performance improvement program for early detection and treatment of severe sepsis in general medical–surgical wards. J Hosp Med. 2016;11:S32–S9. https://doi.org/10.1002/jhm.2656.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Harrison AM, Gajic O, Pickering BW, Herasevich V. Development and implementation of sepsis alert systems. Clin Chest Med. 2016;37(2):219–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ccm.2016.01.004.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

SCREEN Trial Group:

King Abdulaziz Medical City – Riyadh

Mohamed S. Al Moammary, Soud Rasheed, Amal Matroud, Rasha Ebeid Al Anazi, Haifa Al Shammari, Majid M Alshamrani, Saleh Qasim, Saeed Obbed, Mohammed Al Qarni, Abdul Rahman Jazieh, Mohammed AlHarbi, Angela Tracy Caswell, Mohammed Ali Qahtani, Mohammed Al Kanhal, Norah AlIbrahim, Nouf Al Mutairi, Khoulod Al Bishi, Malia Ravestjin, Florbela Maria Ribeiro, Mary Davids, Hannah Richmond, Sharon Chellan, Olifunmilay Seymour, Esther Arrivas, Laura Gysman, Maha Al Anizi, Wafa Al Malack, Eman Matar Al Anizi, Erlie Bobadilla, Jennifer Lazaro, Pauline Maake, Raathiga Veerapathran, Venus Bailon, Juliet Ball, Jacqueline Hendricks, Ahmed Al Anazi, Nesreen Abu Zabnah, Jacqueline Hendricks, Michelle Robinson, Georges Rene Nammour

King Abdulaziz Medical City – Jeddah

Adnan A Munshi, Hadia Al Tabsh, Basem R Banat, Omar Abuskout, Mayadah M Alhabshi, Abdullah Bin Hamdan, Arwa OYamani, Eman Matar, Osama Younis, Jayshree Naidoo, Elizabeth Moodi, Haman Goitsemang, Ahmad Asmadi, ElhamBukhari, Yit Tham, Milagros Biaco, Jaafar Othman

King Abdulaziz Hospital – Al Ahsa

Ahmed Al Arfaj, Mohammad Shahin, Jamielah Yaakob, Jamal Chalabi, Johanna E Greyvenstein, Abdulaziz Al Qasem, Hattan Esilan, Maria Al Mulhim, Waleed K. Al-Arfaj, Christa Myumi Sian, Sami Musalam Aliyyen, Sapur SinghBalbinder, Peh Siew Li, Siti Fairus Ahmad Tarmizi, Ahmad Salahaldeen, Rohana Yahya, Arwina Sufika Buniran, Rowena Jose, Suhaila Paimin, Shantal Pienaar

Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Hospital – Madinah

Turki Alwasaidi, Amar M Alhasani, Ibrahim J. Jaber, Noha Omaish, Mohammad Abdrabo, Azura Abdrahim, Saeed Rakha, Naif Almughamisi, Khalid H. Albalawi, Jihar Rahman Arab, Yahya Malem, Ayman Ghabyen, Abdullah Al Momani, Noraina Abu Noh

Imam Abdulrahman Al Faisal Hospital – Dammam

Hanan Al Somali, Clara Masala, Fatimah Talaqof, Dawn Elizabeth Parker, Gaber Madram, Wafa Nasser

Funding

This is a non-funded study sponsored by King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC). The sponsor has no role in the study design and collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Consortia

Contributions

YA is the chief investigator and contributed to the conception and design, analytical plan, drafting of the manuscript, and critical revision of the manuscript for important and intellectual content. AS, AM, MZ, AAQ, AS, AK, FR, HG, EG, RH, EQ, NT, HD, RV, SA, MH, ZY, SS, FH, KA, MK, AQ, MA, AA, NS, AHA, AY, WJ, JA, SQ, and AH contributed to the development of the protocol and critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content. The authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yaseen M. Arabi.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The study was approved by the National Guard Health Affairs Institutional Review Board (IRB) with protocol number RC 18/112. Informed consent was waived by the IRB because of the nature of the study.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information

Additional file 1.

SPIRIT 2013 Checklist: Recommended items to address in a clinical trial protocol and related documents.

Additional file 2.

Supplementary file.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Arabi, Y.M., Alsaawi, A., Al Zahrani, M. et al. Electronic early notification of sepsis in hospitalized ward patients: a study protocol for a stepped-wedge cluster randomized controlled trial. Trials 22, 695 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-021-05562-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Sepsis
  • Alert
  • Screening
  • qSOFA
  • Mortality
  • Electronic medical records