Infectious Diseases Society of America Position Paper: Recommended Revisions to the National Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock Early Management Bundle (SEP-1) Sepsis Quality Measure
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
15 February 2021
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock Early Management Bundle (SEP-1) measure has appropriately established sepsis as a national priority. However, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA and five additional endorsing societies) is concerned about SEP-1’s potential to drive antibiotic overuse because it does not account for the high rate of sepsis overdiagnosis and encourages aggressive antibiotics for all patients with possible sepsis, regardless of the certainty of diagnosis or severity of illness. IDSA is also concerned that SEP-1’s complex “time zero” definition is not evidence-based and is prone to inter-observer variation. In this position paper, IDSA outlines several recommendations aimed at reducing the risk of unintended consequences of SEP-1 while maintaining focus on its evidence-based elements. IDSA’s core recommendation is to limit SEP-1 to septic shock, for which the evidence supporting the benefit of immediate antibiotics is greatest. Prompt empiric antibiotics are often appropriate for suspected sepsis without shock, but IDSA believes there is too much heterogeneity and difficulty defining this population, uncertainty about the presence of infection, and insufficient data on the necessity of immediate antibiotics to support a mandatory treatment standard for all patients in this category. IDSA believes guidance on managing possible sepsis without shock is more appropriate for guidelines that can delineate the strengths and limitations of supporting evidence and allow clinicians discretion in applying specific recommendations to individual patients. Removing sepsis without shock from SEP-1 will mitigate the risk of unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for noninfectious syndromes, simplify data abstraction, increase measure reliability, and focus attention on the population most likely to benefit from immediate empiric broad-spectrum antibiotics.