Hospitals are increasingly turning to clinical decision support systems for sepsis, a life-threatening illness, to provide patient-specific assessments and recommendations to aid in evidence-based clinical decision-making. Lack of guidelines on how to present alerts has impeded optimization of alerts, specifically, effective ways to differentiate alerts while highlighting important pieces of information to create a universal standard for health care providers.


To gain insight into clinical decision support systems–based alerts, specifically targeting nursing interventions for sepsis, with a focus on behaviors associated with and perceptions of alerts, as well as visual preferences.


An interactive survey to display a novel user interface for clinical decision support systems for sepsis was developed and then administered to members of the nursing staff.


A total of 43 nurses participated in 2 interactive survey sessions. Participants preferred alerts that were based on an established treatment protocol, were presented in a pop-up format, and addressed the patient’s clinical condition rather than regulatory guidelines.


The results can be used in future research to optimize electronic medical record alerting and clinical practice workflow to support the efficient, effective, and timely delivery of high-quality care to patients with sepsis. The research also may advance the knowledge base of what information health care providers want and need to improve the health and safety of their patients.

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