Computerized clinical decision support systems for early detection of sepsis among adult inpatients: scoping review

Khalia Ackermann, Jannah Baker, Malcolm Green, Mary Fullick, Hilal Varinli, Johanna Westbrook, Ling Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Sepsis is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Early detection of sepsis followed promptly by treatment initiation improves patient outcomes and saves lives. Hospitals are increasingly using computerized clinical decision support (CCDS) systems for the rapid identification of adult patients with sepsis.

Objective: This scoping review aims to systematically describe studies reporting on the use and evaluation of CCDS systems for the early detection of adult inpatients with sepsis.

Methods: The protocol for this scoping review was previously published. A total of 10 electronic databases (MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, the Cochrane database, LILACS [Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature], Scopus, Web of Science, OpenGrey,, and PQDT [ProQuest Dissertations and Theses]) were comprehensively searched using terms for sepsis, CCDS, and detection to identify relevant studies. Title, abstract, and full-text screening were performed by 2 independent reviewers using predefined eligibility criteria. Data charting was performed by 1 reviewer with a second reviewer checking a random sample of studies. Any disagreements were discussed with input from a third reviewer. In this review, we present the results for adult inpatients, including studies that do not specify patient age.

Results: A search of the electronic databases retrieved 12,139 studies following duplicate removal. We identified 124 studies for inclusion after title, abstract, full-text screening, and hand searching were complete. Nearly all studies (121/124, 97.6%) were published after 2009. Half of the studies were journal articles (65/124, 52.4%), and the remainder were conference abstracts (54/124, 43.5%) and theses (5/124, 4%). Most studies used a single cohort (54/124, 43.5%) or before-after (42/124, 33.9%) approach. Across all 124 included studies, patient outcomes were the most frequently reported outcomes (107/124, 86.3%), followed by sepsis treatment and management (75/124, 60.5%), CCDS usability (14/124, 11.3%), and cost outcomes (9/124, 7.3%). For sepsis identification, the systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria were the most commonly used, alone (50/124, 40.3%), combined with organ dysfunction (28/124, 22.6%), or combined with other criteria (23/124, 18.5%). Over half of the CCDS systems (68/124, 54.8%) were implemented alongside other sepsis-related interventions.

Conclusions: The current body of literature investigating the implementation of CCDS systems for the early detection of adult inpatients with sepsis is extremely diverse. There is substantial variability in study design, CCDS criteria and characteristics, and outcomes measured across the identified literature. Future research on CCDS system usability, cost, and impact on sepsis morbidity is needed.

International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): RR2-10.2196/24899.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31083
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • sepsis
  • early detection of disease
  • clinical decision support systems
  • patient safety
  • electronic health records
  • sepsis care pathway


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