An AI algorithm used in emergency departments at UC San Diego Health allowed clinicians to quickly predict sepsis infection in high-risk patients and reduce mortality, according to a new study, published in npj Digital Medicine.

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine say using the AI algorithm, called “Composer,” which was previously developed by the research team, resulted in a 17% reduction in mortality.

“Our Composer model uses real-time data in order to predict sepsis before obvious clinical manifestations,” said study co-author Gabriel Wardi, MD, chief of the Division of Critical Care in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “It works silently and safely behind the scenes, continuously surveilling every patient for signs of possible sepsis.”

Once a patient checks in at the emergency department, the algorithm begins to continuously monitor more than 150 different patient variables that could be linked to sepsis, such as lab results, vital signs, current medications, demographics and medical history.

Should a patient present with multiple variables, resulting in high risk for sepsis infection, the AI algorithm will notify nursing staff via the hospital’s electronic health record. The nursing team will then review with the physician and determine appropriate treatment plans.

“These advanced AI algorithms can detect patterns that are not initially obvious to the human eye,” said study co-author Shamim Nemati, PhD, associate professor of biomedical informatics and director of predictive analytics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “The system can look at these risk factors and come up with a highly accurate prediction of sepsis. Conversely, if the risk patterns can be explained by other conditions with higher confidence, then no alerts will be sent.”

The study examined more than 6,000 patient admissions before and after Composer was deployed in the emergency departments at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest and at Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla.

It is the first study to report improvement in patient outcomes by utilizing an AI deep-learning model, which is a model that uses artificial neural networks as a check and balance in order to safely, and correctly, identify health concerns in patients. The model is able to identify complex and multiple risk factors, which are then reviewed by the health care team for confirmation.

“It is because of this AI model that our teams can provide life-saving therapy for patients quicker,” said Wardi, emergency medicine and critical care physician at UC San Diego Health.

Composer was activated in December 2022 and is now also being utilized in many hospital in-patient units throughout UC San Diego Health. It will soon be activated at the health system’s newest location, UC San Diego Health East Campus.

Source: UC San Diego Health