- Healthcare experts are debating pros and cons of the new federal reporting requirements for hospital treatment of sepsis patients.
- The new measure, which will be implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in October, has redefined severe sepsis and septic shock and has specified treatment protocols.
- Critics argue the new guidelines could result in people being treated who do not actually have sepsis.
The motives behind the new measure are to reduce the human and financial toll of spesis.
The National Quality Forum (NQF) backed the measure, noting that, "When combined with pneumonia, sepsis is the third-largest consumer of Medicare, fourth-largest consumer of Medicaid, and fifth-largest consumer of private insurance financial resources and total hospital days."
The treatment guidelines include measuring lactate level, obtaining blood cultures prior to antibiotics, and administering broad-spectrum antibiotics--all within the first three hours of care.
However, among the concerns, writes Dr. Scott Weingart, an emergency physician at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is that "They have re-dubbed severe sepsis to be something very different than we are used to or have read in any of the major sepsis studies." He calls it unacceptable to hold US hospitals to a definition that has not been tested in large-scale trials.
On the other hand, as noted by Dr. Christopher Seymour, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, sepsis is a challenge because there is no single characteristic that identifies affected patients.
"Sepsis is under-recognized and underdiagnosed," he told MedPage Today, "and anything we can do to promote doctors and hospitals to take better care of patients with sepsis is serving the greater good."