NPR

Are State Rules For Treating Sepsis Really Saving Lives?

Some states dictate how doctors must treat this life-threatening reaction to infection, and early intervention is helping. But scientific evidence may be changing too rapidly for the rules to keep up.
A 4-year-old regulation in New York state requires doctors and hospitals to treat sepsis using a protocol that some researchers now question. Source: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Doctors can save thousands of lives a year if they act promptly to identify sepsis, an often lethal reaction to infection. Sometimes called blood poisoning, sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals.

A 4-year-old regulation in New York state compels doctors and hospitals to follow a certain protocol, involving a big dose of antibiotics and intravenous fluids. It's far from perfect — about a quarter of patients still die from sepsis. But early intervention is helping.

"Intervention has to be

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