MedStar Health Awarded Grant to Implement and Evaluate Innovative Sepsis Clinical Decision Support

Through the Diagnostic Quality Improvement Seed Grant Program from the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, the MedStar Health research team will leverage existing electronic health data to help patient outcomes in cases of sepsis.

Hyattsville, MD — MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare was one of 17 organizations awarded a grant by The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) as part of its Diagnostic Quality Improvement (DxQI) Seed Grant Program to improve the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of diagnoses. SIDM awarded MedStar Health $50,000 to support testing an intervention designed to improve diagnosis of sepsis of patients within our healthcare system.

MedStar Health will use this grant to address sepsis, the most common cause of in-hospital death and the most expensive in-patient cost. Many septic patients are not diagnosed at an early stage when aggressive treatment has the potential to reverse the course of infection. Led by principal investigator Kristen Miller, DrPH, MSPH, CPPS, Scientific Director MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare; Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, the program will launch and evaluate a new sepsis-specific clinical decision support tool that uses a validated sepsis staging model to provide earlier and more accurate characterization of sepsis patients. The research will leverage existing electronic health record data in a meaningful way, while reducing clinical burden and supporting improved workflow with a user-centered design approach with enhanced visual displays.

Inaccurate and delayed diagnoses are the most common, catastrophic, and costly of medical errors according to previous research. It is estimated that 12 million adults in the United States experience a diagnostic error every year in outpatient settings alone, and diagnosis failures result in as many as 80,000 premature deaths every year in U.S. hospitals.

 “We are eager to work towards improving diagnosis of sepsis,” said Dr. Miller. “Diagnostic error is a significant problem that the healthcare community needs to address, specifically diagnosis of sepsis which continues to increase annually despite increased awareness. We are proud to be part of a cohort developing specific strategies to improve the accuracy and timeliness of diagnosis. This is just one of many continuing efforts to improve patient care at MedStar Health.”

This research will build on the previous work by the Center, focused on more effectively displaying clinical data to clinicians within the electronic health record to improve sepsis diagnosis. This early work, funded through a R01 from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) developed graphical model displays of two popular sepsis scoring systems.

The SIDM DxQI program is unique. Grantees will identify and implement small, practical tests of change, and begin building evidence supporting interventions. If replicated and spread across other hospitals and health systems, these interventions have the potential to improve diagnosis.

“There are very few proven real-world solutions to minimize the harm diagnostic errors can cause,” said Gerard M. Castro, PhD, MPH, PMP, Director of Quality Improvement, SIDM. “The DxQI grants awarded through the program are a first step in learning what best practices we can build into the diagnostic process to ensure that patients receive a diagnosis that is accurate, determined in a timely manner, and effectively communicated.”

DxQI Seed Grant program will help clinicians, hospitals and health systems take specific steps to reduce diagnostic errors by building an evidence base of effective interventions. Once tested, SIDM will create a clearinghouse of the interventions and be a catalyst for the adoption of effective practices by other organizations across the country. The DxQI Seed Grant Program is an initiative of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.



About MedStar Human Factors
The MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare occupies a unique position in the United States as the largest human factors program embedded within a healthcare system. It brings together human factors scientists, systems safety engineers, health services researchers, clinicians, and other experts to create a safer and more efficient healthcare environment through four core services in research, usability, safety advisement, and education. The Center is part of the MedStar Health Research Institute and is also affiliated with the MedStar Institute for Innovation and MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety. MedStar Health, the parent organization, is the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region, with 10 hospitals and an extensive ambulatory services network, and is the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University.

About MedStar Health Research Institute
MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. For more information, visit

About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at

About the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine
The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine catalyzes and leads change to improve diagnosis and eliminate harm from diagnostic error. We work in partnership with patients, their families, the healthcare community and every interested stakeholder. SIDM is the only organization focused solely on the problem of diagnostic error and improving the accuracy and timeliness of diagnosis. In 2015, SIDM established the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis to increase awareness and actions that improve diagnosis. Members of the Coalition represent hundreds of thousands of healthcare providers and patients—and the leading health organizations and government agencies involved in patient care. Together, we work to find solutions that enhance diagnostic safety and quality, reduce harm, and ultimately, ensure better health outcomes for patients. Visit to learn more.

Media Contact

Eva Hochberger
Communications & Planning Manager, MHRI
[email protected]