A Pragmatic, Stepped-Wedge, Cluster-controlled Clinical Trial of Real-Time Pneumonia Clinical Decision Support

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2022 Jun 1;205(11):1330-1336. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202109-2092OC.


Rationale: Care of emergency department (ED) patients with pneumonia can be challenging. Clinical decision support may decrease unnecessary variation and improve care. Objectives: To report patient outcomes and processes of care after deployment of electronic pneumonia clinical decision support (ePNa): a comprehensive, open loop, real-time clinical decision support embedded within the electronic health record. Methods: We conducted a pragmatic, stepped-wedge, cluster-controlled trial with deployment at 2-month intervals in 16 community hospitals. ePNa extracts real-time and historical data to guide diagnosis, risk stratification, microbiological studies, site of care, and antibiotic therapy. We included all adult ED patients with pneumonia over the course of 3 years identified by International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision discharge coding confirmed by chest imaging. Measurements and Main Results: The median age of the 6,848 patients was 67 years (interquartile range, 50-79), and 48% were female; 64.8% were hospital admitted. Unadjusted mortality was 8.6% before and 4.8% after deployment. A mixed effects logistic regression model adjusting for severity of illness with hospital cluster as the random effect showed an adjusted odds ratio of 0.62 (0.49-0.79; P < 0.001) for 30-day all-cause mortality after deployment. Lower mortality was consistent across hospital clusters. ePNa-concordant antibiotic prescribing increased from 83.5% to 90.2% (P < 0.001). The mean time from ED admission to first antibiotic was 159.4 (156.9-161.9) minutes at baseline and 150.9 (144.1-157.8) minutes after deployment (P < 0.001). Outpatient disposition from the ED increased from 29.2% to 46.9%, whereas 7-day secondary hospital admission was unchanged (5.2% vs. 6.1%). ePNa was used by ED clinicians in 67% of eligible patients. Conclusions: ePNa deployment was associated with improved processes of care and lower mortality. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03358342).

Keywords: antibiotic use; clinical decision support; emergency department; mortality; pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pneumonia* / diagnosis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03358342