Sepsis contributes to half of hospital deaths

Sepsis contributes to as many as 50 percent of all U.S. hospital deaths, despite only being present in one in 10 patients, research presented at the American Thoracic Society's (ATS) annual conference found, according to a statement from the ATS.

Despite extensive research on sepsis incidence and mortality, the medical community has a poor understanding of the condition's broader impact on overall hospital mortality rates, according to lead author Vincent Liu, M.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, and his team. "Our study was designed to quantify the national impact of sepsis on hospitalized patients and to highlight the importance of sepsis care on mortality at a population level," Liu said in the statement.

Liu and his team analyzed 6.5 million hospital discharge records from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample in 2010. They found that mortality rates among sepsis patients were 10.4 percent, compared to 1.1 percent among non-sepsis patients. Moreover, of all hospital deaths around the U.S., up to 52 percent were among sepsis patients. Sepsis also accounted for nearly 22 percent of all hospital charges, according to the statement.

"We were surprised to find that as many as one in two patients dying in U.S. hospitals had sepsis. Teasing apart these findings in a similar regional study of sepsis mortality at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, we found that most patients already had sepsis at the time of hospital admission. There was also a large number of patients with less severe sepsis, a group for whom treatment guidelines are less well-defined,"  Liu said. "The results of our study suggest that improved care for sepsis patients of all severity levels and in all hospital settings could result in many future lives saved."

A study last November indicated severe sepsis mortality rates fell over the past 20 years, even though no new pharmacological treatments were developed during that period, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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- here's the statement