Improving Sepsis Outcomes in the Era of Pay-for-Performance and Electronic Quality Measures: A Joint IDSA/ACEP/PIDS/SHEA/SHM/SIDP Position Paper

Chanu Rhee, Jeffrey R. Strich, Kathleen Chiotos, David C. Classen, Sara E. Cosgrove, Ron Greeno, Emily L. Heil, Sameer S. Kadri, Andre C. Kalil, David N. Gilbert, Henry Masur, Edward J. Septimus, Daniel A. Sweeney, Aisha Terry, Dean L. Winslow, Donald M. Yealy, Michael Klompas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced the Severe Sepsis/Septic Shock Management Bundle (SEP-1) as a pay-for-reporting measure in 2015 and is now planning to make it a pay-for-performance measure by incorporating it into the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program. This joint IDSA/ACEP/PIDS/SHEA/SHM/SIPD position paper highlights concerns with this change. Multiple studies indicate that SEP-1 implementation was associated with increased broad-spectrum antibiotic use, lactate measurements, and aggressive fluid resuscitation for patients with suspected sepsis but not with decreased mortality rates. Increased focus on SEP-1 risks further diverting attention and resources from more effective measures and comprehensive sepsis care. We recommend retiring SEP-1 rather than using it in a payment model and shifting instead to new sepsis metrics that focus on patient outcomes. CMS is developing a community-onset sepsis 30-day mortality electronic clinical quality measure (eCQM) that is an important step in this direction. The eCQM preliminarily identifies sepsis using systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria, antibiotic administrations or diagnosis codes for infection or sepsis, and clinical indicators of acute organ dysfunction. We support the eCQM but recommend removing SIRS criteria and diagnosis codes to streamline implementation, decrease variability between hospitals, maintain vigilance for patients with sepsis but without SIRS, and avoid promoting antibiotic use in uninfected patients with SIRS. We further advocate for CMS to harmonize the eCQM with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Adult Sepsis Event surveillance metric to promote unity in federal measures, decrease reporting burden for hospitals, and facilitate shared prevention initiatives. These steps will result in a more robust measure that will encourage hospitals to pay more attention to the full breadth of sepsis care, stimulate new innovations in diagnosis and treatment, and ultimately bring us closer to our shared goal of improving outcomes for patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-513
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2024


  • SEP-1
  • quality measures
  • sepsis
  • sepsis bundle
  • septic shock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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