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SEP-1? SEP-3? When Sepsis Protocols Change, Can You Keep Up?

Written by Mark H. Johnson, MHA, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, Director of Privacy and Security, Iatric Systems

Treating patients with sepsis is challenging enough without confusion about which protocol to use or whether you are following it correctly. Clinicians depend on clarity as they care for critically ill patients. When guidelines are replaced or revised, those changes need to be incorporated into their workflows. Those decisions, however, aren’t always made with awareness of the work required to implement them, by people further down the food chain.

A case in point: the ongoing discussion regarding SEP-1 vs. SEP-3 that many hospitals are struggling with. CMS follows the SEP-1 guidelines for sepsis diagnosis and treatment. Hospitals need to comply or they’ll be penalized for not meeting the core quality measure. However, the Surviving Sepsis Campaign now favors SEP-3, with a different sepsis definition and different treatment protocols. Insurance companies are moving toward SEP-3 and rejecting some claims based on SEP-1 as unsubstantiated.

Should You Panic? That Depends.

For hospitals, it’s a real dilemma. Do they stick with SEP-1 and have their claims rejected by commercial payers? Embrace SEP-3, and watch their quality scores tank? Adopt some hybrid combination? Or try to use both depending on whether Medicare or private insurance is paying? Whatever direction they take will involve retooling sepsis management workflows to accommodate new definitions, indicators, treatment regimens, timeframes, reassessments, etc. Patient lives and hospital revenue will depend on all this activity working correctly and in sync.

Hospitals may also use other guidelines in parallel with SEP-1 or SEP-3. For example, some hospitals use qSOFA (quick Systemic Organ Failure Assessment) which identifies patients at high risk from suspected infection. A hospital may have in-house protocols reflecting its patient population, and infection control specialists may have their own set of requirements. Like SEP-1 and SEP-3, all of these are subject to being revised, tweaked, or pulled out and replaced.

Customizing Sepsis Management for Your Hospital

This flexibility is inherent to our sepsis management tools that help hospitals comply with whatever guideline(s) CMS and insurance companies demand, while reducing sepsis mortality rates and streamlining workflows. These solutions are designed for easy customization, and they work with any sepsis algorithm or scoring protocol:

  • Our Sepsis Management platform continually monitors clinical data for signs of sepsis and scores patients in real time. Customized alerts, dashboards, and reports improve the delivery of care and provide valuable intelligence on multiple levels.
  • Visual SmartBoard™ provides a customized view of clinical data for multiple patients (for example, on a hospital floor). Color assignment and other indicators relay important information related to patient status and contributing factors. Users are alerted based on criteria/rules that are defined by the customer.

Change Happens — Be Ready for It

It’s still uncertain how the SEP-1 vs. SEP-3 discussion will play out. But whether your hospital decides to embrace SEP-3 as the new standard, stick with SEP-1 as it continues to evolve, or take its own path to sepsis management, Iatric Systems has you covered. That’s good news for your patients, and good news for your bottom line.

Discover the Capabilities of Automated Sepsis Management

Learn more about Visual SmartBoard for Sepsis

Topics: sepsis hospital deaths, sepsis risk of death, sepsis expenses, severe sepsis, sepsis associated readmissions, sepsis measures compliance

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