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Epic-generated sepsis alerts increased during COVID-19, study shows

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A research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open this week examined the number of alerts generated by the Epic Sepsis Model at 24 hospitals before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and Washington University School of Medicine found that the total alerts per day increased by 43% in the three weeks before and after the first case of COVID-19 in each health system.

“Although the increase in the proportion of patients generating sepsis alerts in this study can be explained by the cancellation of elective surgeries and a higher average acuity among the remaining hospitalized patients, the 43% increase in total alerts illustrates the increased alerting burden imposed by COVID-19 on a sepsis model,” they wrote.

Epic did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

WHY IT MATTERS

As noted by the researchers, concerns have been raised about the potential for sepsis models to cause alert fatigue, leading to the University of Michigan to pause Epic-generated alerts in April 2020.”This increase in alerting could have resulted from dataset shift, a phenomenon in which model performance deteriorates as a result of changes in the case mix,” said researchers. […]

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