MDW Clinical Application in the ED:
Saving 85 Minutes to Start Antibiotics

Patient Case Study:
Learn how elevated MDW (Monocyte Distribution Width) along with clinical correlation prompted a sepsis diagnosis and helped eliminate 85 minutes of source control, allowing for prompt antibiotic administration.

8:45 a.m.

Patient arrives to ED

The patient, a 65-year-old female with a past medical history of coronary artery disease, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, presents with a four-day history of chills, headache, increase in urinary frequency, and left lower quadrant abdominal pain.

One day prior, she was seen at a nearby urgent care where she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and started on antibiotics. So far, she has taken three doses of antibiotics. She denies dysuria and denies a prior history of urinary tract infection. She has had two episodes of non-bloody emesis but denies diarrhea or constipation. She denies having fever but has had chills intermittently over the last few days.

She reports her headache started four days ago and describes it as a dull pain that does not improve with Tylenol or ibuprofen.

8:53 a.m.

Initial vital signs are obtained

Temperature: 37.2°C (98.96°F) |Blood pressure: 140/87 |Pulse: 110 BPM |Respiratory rate: 18 | Oxygen Saturation (SpO2): 99% on room air.

Positive physical exam findings were tachycardia and mild tenderness to palpation of the left lower quadrant.

10:24 a.m.

CBC and MDW results come in

CBC results show an elevation in white blood count at 14.7 and an elevated MDW at 26.5.

10:31 a.m.

Antibiotics are ordered

The patient’s elevated WBC and MDW results suggest the possibility of sepsis. Considering the patient’s CBC and MDW results and the patient’s tachycardia and physical exam findings of the left lower quadrant abdominal pain, the physicians order antibiotics.

The physicians also order a CT of the abdomen pelvis at this time.

10:50 a.m.

Chest X-ray results come in

The chest X-ray results show no acute findings.

10:55 a.m.

CMP results come in

CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel) results return normal aside from mild elevation of AST (aspartate aminotransferase) at 72 and ALT (alanine aminotransferase) at 67.

11:56 a.m.

CT abdomen pelvis results come in

CT abdomen pelvis results show moderate to severe bilateral acute pyelonephritis greater on the right side.


Urinalysis results come in

WBC 5 to 10 | RBC 2 to 10 | trace bacteria and squamous cells 20 to 50, suggesting possible infection.

Saving 85 minutes to start antibiotics

Patient vital signs were obtained at 8:53 a.m., and CBC was resulted at 10:24 a.m. and showed elevated WBC along with MDW. This addresses sepsis, which along with the patient's clinical presentation, tipped the scale towards starting antibiotics which were ordered at 10:31 a.m. There were 98 minutes from initial vital signs to antibiotic order.

At 11:56 a.m., the CT finally resulted, which demonstrated bilateral pyelonephritis. If the antibiotics were ordered at the same time when the CT was resulted, it would have been 183 minutes from the time initial vital signs were obtained. By considering elevated MDW as an early sign of sepsis, especially when combined with elevated WBC, physicians saved 85 minutes in ordering antibiotics and further source control.

The elevated MDW along with the clinical correlation helped shave off 85 minutes of source control, allowing the patient to start antibiotics early.

Watch Dr. Sarani present this specific emergency department case study demonstrating the clinical utility of MDW in an acute care setting.

Interested in reading more MDW case studies similar to this one? Click Here 

About Monocyte Distribution Width (MDW)


MDW, proprietary to Beckman Coulter analyzers, is the only regulatory-cleared hematological biomarker that helps in the understanding of risk of severe infection and sepsis in adult patients in the ED.

Available Early

MDW helps reduce diagnostic uncertainty. It is available early to help clinicians escalate or de-escalate care in patients with suspected infectious etiology.

CBC Diff

MDW is available early in patient assessments as part of CBC with Differential tests—no need to order additional tests.

Disclaimer: This trend is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended to promote any Beckman Coulter product or service.