Predictive monitoring for early detection of subacute potentially catastrophic illnesses in critical care
We wish to save lives of patients admitted to ICUs. Their mortality is high enough based simply on the severity of the original injury or illness, but is further raised by events during their stay. We target those events that are subacute but potentially catastrophic, such as infection. Sepsis, for example, is a bacterial infection of the bloodstream, that is common in ICU patients and has a >25% risk of death. Logically, early detection and treatment with antibiotics should improve outcomes. Our fundamental precepts are (1) some potentially catastrophic medical and surgical illnesses have subclinical phases during which early diagnosis and treatment might have life-saving effects, (2) these phases are characterized by changes in the normal highly complex but highly adaptive regulation and interaction of the nervous system and other organs such as the heart and lungs, (3) teams of clinicians and quantitative scientists can work together to identify clinically important abnormalities of monitoring data, to develop algorithms that match the clinicians' eye in detecting abnormalities, and to undertake the clinical trials to test their impact on outcomes.