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Focus On: Electronic Medical Records and Sepsis

computerized medical records at Banner Health  

Bringing down a killer at Banner Health

Banner Health physicians have achieved what can be hailed as a medical break-through by significantly lowering the mortality rate of sepsis in intensive care unit (ICU) patients where sepsis is most commonly treated. While there are no walks, runs or national movements to end sepsis, it is the nation’s number 10 killer according to the Centers for Disease control. Annually more than 750,000 Americans are afflicted by this serious infection that can cause major organ failure and death. In fact, every year more than 34,000 people succumb to sepsis.

By using unique capabilities of an enhanced electronic medical records (EMR) system, Banner physicians over the past 12 months have achieved sepsis mortality rates in ICUs to between 15 and 17 percent. What makes these outcomes remarkable is they are set against a national sepsis mortality rate in ICUs of 25 percent up to 50 percent, depending on the severity of sepsis.

“These outcomes represent a break-through in the care of patients who have this potentially deadly infection,” said Banner Health’s Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer John Hensing, MD. “EMR is mostly talked about as an enabling technology at the-point-of-care that can help to improve the reliability of the delivery of patient care and decision-making supported by real-time patient history,” continued Hensing, “But this has shown us that an EMR also can be integrated into specific disease-care processes with the potential to be a game-changer. I believe we’re seeing that at Banner with our care of sepsis patients.”

Like so many other life-threatening diseases, the early symptoms of sepsis can be challenging to recognize and interpret. And, just like nearly all life-threatening diseases, the earlier sepsis is identified the more effective therapies can be to cure it.

Banner’s robust EMR system is able to monitor patients on a “24/7” basis, and when symptoms appear that may signal sepsis, the EMR sends an alert to the physicians and other clinicians caring for the patient. Additionally, these caregivers are provided a algorithm of evidenced-based clinical actions to follow that have been proven to successfully treat sepsis. 

Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona with 29 hospitals in seven states, Banner Health has more than 400 ICU beds in its hospitals and is one of a handful of systems to fully implement an enhanced EMR system throughout all areas of its hospitals.


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