ICU doctor: ‘There’s no other system like it in the world,’ of pneumonia electronic support tool

Mar 25, 2022, 8:46 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2022, 8:47 pm

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death for contagious diseases in the United States. Though common, doctors say it can be difficult to diagnose and treat. A cutting-edge tool is saving lives.

Cindy Cook is still recovering from an illness she got in January. Her doctor knew right away it was serious.

“Just by the coloring of my face, he could tell that I was really sick,” said Cook, age 62, who lives in Farmington.

“I could tell that he was moving fast, and he said, ‘You guys have got to get to the ER.'”

Cook was septic and her vital organs were shutting down. Doctors decided her case was serious enough they flew her to Intermountain Medical Center.

In the ICU, Dr. Nathan Dean with Intermountain Healthcare used a clinical decision support tool called ePneumonia to diagnose and treat Cook. He said it’s a game changer in treating pneumonia.

“There’s no other system is like this in the world,” said Dean, who is the Section Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

The electronic tool gathers a patient’s symptoms and vital signs to assist the doctor in a diagnosis.

“Things like fever, whether the patient has a cough, whether they’re what the white blood count is elevated,” Dean said.

Then, it guides doctors in making better decisions about care. Like whether a patient should be sent to the ICU, admitted to the hospital, or is safe to go home.

Dean says it’s been vital during the pandemic. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death from COVID.

“COVID really has been an epidemic of a viral pneumonia that we had no immunity to,” he said.

A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found ePneumonia reduced deaths by 38% and safely decreased intensive care unit admission.

It also suggests the tool can be useful in smaller community hospitals, as well as the larger urban centers. Cook said it helped save her life.

“I’m forever grateful,” she said.

She’s also thankful for the lessons she’s learned that have nothing to do with medicine.

“I’ve learned that you need to slow down. There’s so many things that are more important.”

And for technology that’s helping her heal.

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ICU doctor: ‘There’s no other system like it in the world,’ of pneumonia electronic support tool