Study Reveals Dramatic Inadequacy of Sepsis Care in Our Hospitals

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CMS Study reveals that three-quarters of U.S. hospitals fail to provide appropriate care for sepsis. The result is patient lives being needlessly placed at risk.

Patients and families deserve to know the truth about how U.S. hospitals perform.

The latest data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shows many hospitals are failing to provide appropriate care to sepsis patients according to a new study released by

The study assigns traditional grades to the percentage of patients who receive appropriate care. Only 1.5% received an A, while a disturbing 74.8% of hospitals received a failing grade.

“People are dying because hospitals are failing.” said Charles Brown, managing partner of Brown, Christie, and Green, a medical malpractice law firm. “With the efforts made by academia, the government, and advocacy groups, the handling of sepsis patients should not be a mystery, and yet too often patients die from inadequate care. While CMS gives a star rating, we believe that using traditional school grades more accurately communicates the results. If a hospital only gives appropriate treatment 60% of the time, that isn’t 3 stars, that is a failing grade.”

The study pulls from data that CMS has recently released comparing hospital performance across the United States. The data reports how well more than 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals across the U.S. rate in various measures, including sepsis care. Current data reports on Q1 2018.

In the CMS datasets, a low score indicates a serious problem. The data is collected using a patient sample, and determining what percent of those patients were receiving appropriate care. A score of 0 indicates that none of the patients surveyed at the time were getting appropriate care for sepsis.

The study was released on February 28, 2019 and key findings include:

  • For Q1 2018, the national benchmark for SEP-1 was 53.5.
  • The majority of U.S. hospitals fell below the national benchmark:
  • - 1.5% received an A.
  • - 5% received a B.
  • - 10.7% received a C.
  • - 7.7% received a D.
  • - 74.8% received a failing grade.
  • The worst-rated hospital for sepsis care was Alliance Health Seminole, in Seminole, Oklahoma, which received a score of 0.
  • The states with the overall lowest scores are the District of Columbia (scored 31), Arkansas (scored 42), and North Dakota (scored 42).
  • The states with the overall highest scores are Hawaii (scored 66), Florida (scored 60), and New Jersey (scored 58).

Appropriate care for sepsis and septic shock is identified as SEP-1 in CMS datasets. The SEP-1 measure is consistent with guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Surviving Sepsis Campaign. The measures assesses the following:

  • Measurement of lactate
  • Obtaining blood cultures
  • Administering broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Vasopressor Administration
  • Fluid resuscitation
  • Reassessment of tissue perfusion and volume status
  • Repeat lactate measurement

Based on guidelines, the first three interventions should take place within three (3) hours of presentation (symptoms) of severe sepsis. All other interventions should take place within six (6) hours of presentation (symptoms) of septic shock.

“Patients and their families need to know that there are standards out there and that hospitals must follow these patient safety rules. When they do not, the hospitals need to be accountable. Shining a light on their failing grades is a good first step.”

About Charles Brown - Brown, Christie & Green

Attorney Charles Brown is the Managing Partner at Brown, Christie & Green law firm located in Houston, Texas. Brown, Christie & Green is the largest plaintiff’s medical malpractice firm in Texas. Charles is a top-rated trial lawyer, and has consistently been honored and awarded for his work advocating for his clients. Brown, Christie & Green focuses on medical malpractice and nursing home abuse cases. The primary office is located at 712 Main St., Suite 800, Houston, TX 77002. For more information, please visit, or call (800) 600-4210.

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