Critical Care Breakthroughs

Our critical care research helps clinicians make decisions that save lives.

A Better Way to Predict and Prevent Blood Clots

Blood clots can be blamed for the deaths of around 300,000 people each year in the U.S., which is why caregivers in Intermountain hospitals are vigilant about looking for risk factors of clots. Predicting these clots can be complex, and results are not always accurate, so researchers at Intermountain Medical Center set out to find a better way to predict and prevent them.

These researchers analyzed the medical records of nearly 50,000 patients who suffered from blood clots, and screened for the four most predictive factors of clots: 1) previous blood clot, 2) a doctor’s order for bed rest, 3) a special type of IV called a PICC line, and 4) a cancer diagnosis. They used the data collected to develop a model to help clinicians predict a patient’s risk for developing clots better than a risk assessment tool that already existed – and more effectively prevent the clot.

A Method that Reduces Septic Shock (a Life-Threatening Blood Infection) Deaths by 80%

Intermountain Medical Center and LDS Hospital have set a new national standard in reducing death from septic shock. By pioneering the implementation of stricter treatment guidelines, a patient’s chance of dying from sepsis and septic shock is reduced by an astounding 80%. The dramatic drop comes three years after Intermountain Healthcare made a goal of treating sepsis patients with a "bundle" of strategies by aggressively identifying patients with the potential for sepsis aggressively and treating them earlier and with more consistency.

Sepsis is a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria from an infection. Nearly 500,000 patients arrive in U.S. emergency departments each year with sepsis, which begins as an ordinary infection, such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection.

"With sepsis, the infection affects the whole person, the whole body. Systems begin to shut down and organs fail," says Dr. Todd Allen, lead researcher and emergency medicine physician at Intermountain Medical Center and LDS Hospital. "Once that happens, the risk of death may be up to 50 percent or higher. Physicians have always struggled with sepsis, and once someone gets to the stage of septic shock, mortality rates are alarmingly high. But we've been able to reduce sepsis-related deaths to a ground-breaking, and remarkably low level.”

The "bundle" of strategies used by Intermountain include 11 elements that provide consistency in the early recognition and treatment of sepsis, including specialized blood testing, administration of antibiotics, fluids, and other medications, tight glucose control and protecting the lungs with a standardized ventilator strategy. The bundle was conceived in 2001 as part of a landmark study by another institution. In the years since then, hospital compliance across the country has been spotty, says Dr. Allen. "Intermountain is among the very first health systems to show huge improvements in a large hospital setting. We may lead the world in overall bundle compliance and survival rate.”

We've Discovered a Better Way to Manage Contagious Disease Within Hospitals

Because hospitals deal with all kinds of health problems in one location, a big concern is keeping contagious disease from spreading from patient to patient. Researchers and specialists at Intermountain Healthcare have developed a tool that helps healthcare providers better manage patients with contagious diseases. It allows them to quickly and correctly determine whether a patient needs to be placed in isolation and if so, which type of isolation based on current CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines.

Using either medical or common descriptions of the initial diagnosis, the caregiver can go to the hospital’s electronic medical record and get information on whether a person needs to be isolated and what type of isolation. Not only that, but the caregiver also receives information on what type of protective gear the provider needs to wear when treating the patient and the infective material and duration of precautions.

Without this information tool, a healthcare provider would need to pull documentation from a number of national sources to make this assessment. Dr. Scott Evans and Dr. Jacob Tripp worked with Intermountain Healthcare Infection Preventionists to develop this decision support tool.