After many years of intense advocacy, we (and that means you!) have made history. For the first time, sepsis funding and directives have been included in the federal budget! This represents a major shift in the federal government’s approach to sepsis and its first step towards comprehensively addressing the overwhelming burden that sepsis places on families, the healthcare system and the economy.
The FY23 Omnibus Spending Bill, signed by President Biden this week, includes two major provisions relating to sepsis:
1. The allocation of significant funding to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), to “conduct a comprehensive set of studies that calculate the morbidity, readmission, and mortality related to sepsis with respect to pediatrics, maternal sepsis, nursing home care, and rehabilitation, and the association of pandemic-related changes in the healthcare system on the burden of sepsis. The study should also examine the annual financial cost of sepsis in the United States.” These studies will remedy serious gaps in our understanding of the overall burden of sepsis. The information gathered will enable the successful allocation of resources and development of effective strategies to combat the sepsis crisis.
2. The requirement that CMS, in collaboration with CDC, develop or identify, “existing quality measures for adult and pediatric sepsis that could be implemented through notice and comment rulemaking.” Furthermore, it explicitly directs CMS and CDC to examine New York’s own sepsis hospital measures (Rory’s Regulations), citing their success. This is the first momentous step towards effective national sepsis measures for both adult and pediatric patients–which we have been fighting for since Rory Staunton died 10 years ago.
Despite the 350,000 lives lost each year to sepsis, and the hundreds and thousands of life-changing disabilities, sepsis has never before been identified in the federal budget. And the government agencies charged with the nation’s health policies, CMS and the CDC, have never before been required by Congress to develop policies to effectively address the sepsis crisis at the hospital level.
We would like to publicly give our heartfelt thanks to those who worked with us to bring about this milestone: Senator Schumer and his committed staff who made this cause their own, Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health, for his pioneering approach to reducing sepsis deaths and our own stellar expert committee on sepsis, led by Dr. Nirav Shah, former NYS Health Commissioner and senior scholar at Stanford University, and Dr. Foster Gesten, former medical director for the Office of Quality & Patient Safety at the NYS Department of Health, who strategized, drafted policy proposals, held numerous meetings and persevered in the face of roadblocks and delays. The illustrious team included:
Drs. Martin Doerfler, Mark Jarrett, and Peter Silver, executive leaders in clinical strategy and patient safety at Northwell Health
Dr. Mitchell Levy, Professor of Medicine at Brown University and Medical Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Rhode Island Hospital
Dr. Vincent Liu, research scientist at Kaiser Permanente
Dr. Christopher Seymour, research scientist and Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Emergency Medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
While we celebrate this milestone, our work is far from over. We will continue our advocacy until the United States has an effective national approach to sepsis and every hospital in the country has a protocol in place to identify and treat it.