Crowley Applauds Medicare Agency for Taking Action on Sepsis, Urges Continued National Focus on Preventing and Treating Sepsis

August 8, 2014
Press Release

A Leading Cause of Death in U.S., Sepsis Strikes 750,000 People Every Year

(Queens, N.Y.) Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, applauded the announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that the agency will include a sepsis reduction measure as part of its final rule concerning Medicare payments for 2015, and called for additional steps to raise awareness of sepsis and increase prevention efforts. The sepsis reduction measure will be added to CMS’ Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting System, which hospitals use to report on their progress in meeting quality standards, giving hospitals a standardized treatment protocol to follow for treating sepsis within the first few hours of symptoms. 

“I am so glad that CMS has recognized that a greater focus is needed on sepsis, and I have urged them to maintain a strong emphasis on sepsis treatment in their payment regulations. However, there is much more that can be done to improve sepsis treatment and prevention, and I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to further enhance federal attention on this issue,” said Rep. Crowley. “In particular, we need to make sure that even our youngest patients are being properly treated for this disease, as well as improve awareness and outreach efforts so that parents, doctors, and community members are able to join in fighting against sepsis in all its forms. I’ve been proud that New York State has been at the forefront of sepsis efforts, but we need a national effort in place to fully address this problem.”

Last month, Crowley led a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in sending a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, urging that the agency use the proposed rule’s emphasis on improving sepsis care as the starting point of a nationwide effort aimed at preventing and treating sepsis.

“Sepsis and septic shock take a tremendous toll on our health care system, the Medicare program, and most importantly, patients and their families. We strongly urge you to lead the charge in preventing and treating sepsis nationwide,” the members wrote in the letter.

The letter highlighted additional opportunities for CMS and other federal agencies to take action, including ensuring that sepsis treatment protocols are in place for patients of all ages, particularly pediatric patients. The members also called on CMS to address the lasting health concerns of patients after their initial treatment for sepsis, to better respond to the needs of those who come into the emergency room with sepsis, and to make greater use of public information and research efforts to ensure greater awareness of sepsis from every angle.

“Even one death from sepsis is one too many. We look forward to working with you to ensure a strong national response to a problem that affects every corner of our country,” the letter continued.

Crowley began working on the issue of sepsis awareness following the passing of Sunnyside resident Rory Staunton, who, at the age of 12, died in 2012 from sepsis. Crowley has worked to increase funding for sepsis research and education, and is preparing legislation to improve sepsis awareness, recognition, and treatment.

Congressman Crowley is the eight-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.