David Payne: Playing the sepsis game

David PayneThere are 1.1m cases of sepsis each year in the US, costing $17bn to treat and accounting for 17% of hospital mortality.

Doctors at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California wanted to help their fellow physicians to recognise and treat it, but instead of producing a paper or video, devised a game.

Septris is a case–based interactive tool that shows up to eight patients’ avatar’s slowly descending a screen as their condition deteriorates. You can download it here. There is also a YouTube demo.

If a doctor decides on an appropriate course of action, the avatar bumps up the page, ultimately ending at the top if their life is saved.

Lisa Shieh, medical director for quality at Stanford, told delegates attending the spring conference of HighWire Press, the university’s web hosting service for scholarly publishers: “Doctors are inherently competitive and we wanted something challenging that doctors can play anytime, with bonus points for saving lives.”

The game is based on Stanford’s sepsis guidelines, and, according to Dr Shieh, uses repetition to reinforce those guidelines. It’s also fast, but “not so fast that you cannot think,” she said. The game can be adapted for new different cases and conditions can be added, and developed for other healthcare professionals.

David Payne is editor, bmj.com