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Stanford develops new tool for teaching doctors to treat sepsis

Jack was sinking fast, his vital signs registering alarming numbers. With every passing second, his doctor, Charles Prober, could see his patient being overwhelmed by sepsis, a deadly complication of infection that plagues hospitals worldwide.

“Jack is the hardest patient,” counseled Prober’s colleague, Lisa Shieh, MD, PhD, the medical director of quality in the Department of Medicine at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. “Give him some antibiotics.”

Prober, MD, the senior associate dean for education and a professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, clicked in the order. A small group of watching physicians clapped in appreciation as Jack’s health almost immediately improved.

“Has he had his blood cultured yet?” said Shieh. Prober took the cue. Then he turned to another patient ailing from sepsis. Just as he finished ordering fluids for that one, his colleagues shouted, in alarmed voices, “Jack, Jack!” — the first patient’s previous gains were rapidly evaporating. “Ah, that’s one thing we want to teach,” Shieh said. “You can’t just give fluids and walk away.”

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