An electronic alert system in the emergency department at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, coupled with a clinician “sepsis huddle” at a child’s bedside, is helping physicians and nurses more quickly identify and assess children who are developing the life-threatening infection.

“Early and accurate recognition of pediatric sepsis is challenging because many children present initially without overt signs of shock,” says Fran Balamuth, MD, an emergency physician and lead author of a quality improvement study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. “Identifying the rare child with severe sepsis or septic shock from among many non-sepsis patients with fever and rapid heart rate who present to a pediatric emergency department is truly akin to the proverbial needle in a haystack.”

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