Electronic tool helps reduce deaths from pneumonia in emergency departments

An electronic decision support tool helped to reduce deaths from pneumonia in four hospital emergency departments in a new study.
Although guidelines for treating pneumonia exist, it is often difficult for these to be fully implemented in an emergency setting. The researchers therefore developed an electronic tool, linked to a patient’s medical record. Unlike a paper guideline, the tool automatically extracts data that predict the severity of pneumonia. The tool then provides recommendations regarding where the patient should be admitted to, which diagnostic tests are best to use and which antibiotics are most appropriate.
Researchers from Intermountain Healthcare and the University of Utah in the USA tested the effectiveness of the tool on pneumonia patients in seven emergency departments. The first group of 2,308 patients were analysed before the electronic tool was used. A later group of 2,450 patients were assessed when four of the seven emergency departments used the electronic tool.
In both groups the researchers looked at hospital admission rates, length of hospital stay, deaths, secondary hospitalisation rates and adherence to guidelines.
The results showed a significant reduction in death rates in the emergency departments where the tool was used. Crude inpatient mortality rate fell from 5.3% to 3.5% and, after adjusting for severity, the relative risk of death was reduced by 25%. EurekAlert