Establishment of SEP-1 national practice guidelines does not impact fluid administration for septic shock patients

Author Department

Emergency Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services introduced the Early Management Bundle, Severe Sepsis/Septic Shock (SEP-1) as a national quality measure in October 2015. The purpose of SEP-1 is to facilitate the efficient, effective, and timely delivery of high-quality care to patients presenting along the spectrum of sepsis severity.

Objectives: The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether provider practice surrounding emergency department (ED) fluid management of suspected septic shock patients was impacted by SEP-1.

Methods: The study was a retrospective observational analysis of 470,558 patient encounters at an urban academic center over a five-year period. The sample of suspected septic shock patients was defined by the following: blood cultures collected, antibiotics administered, and vasopressors initiated. Participants were divided into two cohorts based on date of presentation (Pre-SEP-1: May 1, 2013, - August 30, 2015, and Post-SEP-1: November 1, 2015, - February 28, 2018). The primary outcome was classified as a dichotomous variable based on whether the total volume of fluids administered equaled or exceeded the calculated weight-based (≥30 cc/kg) goal. Segmented logistic regression analyses were used to assess the immediate impact of SEP-1 as well as to compare the long-term trend of fluid volume administered between Pre-SEP-1 and Post-SEP-1 cohorts.

Results: A total of 413 and 482 septic shock patients were included in the Pre-SEP-1 and Post-SEP-1 cohorts, respectively. There was no statistically significant change in weight-based fluid management between the cohorts. The odds of compliance with the weight-based goal decreased 22% immediately following dissemination of SEP-1, however, this was not statistically significant (log-odds = -0.25, p = 0.41). A positive trend in compliance was observed during both the Pre-SEP-1 and Post-SEP-1 periods with odds ratios increasing 0.005 and 0.018 each month, respectively, however, these findings were not statistically significant (log-odds = 0.005, p = 0.736, and log-odds = 0.018, p = 0.10, respectively).

Conclusions: Overall, there were no clinically or statistically meaningful changes in fluid volume resuscitation strategies for suspected septic shock patients following SEP-1. Broad mandates may not be effective tools for promoting practice change in the ED setting. Further research investigating barrier to changes in practice patterns surrounding fluid administration and other SEP-1 bundle elements is warranted.

Keywords: Core measures; Fluid bundle metric; SEP-1; Septic shock; Weight-based fluid management.