JAMA: Up to 50% of hospital deaths linked to sepsis

Infections account for nearly one-quarter of all hospital charges

Sepsis occurs in just 10% of U.S. hospital patients, but it contributes to as many as half of all hospital deaths, according to new research published in JAMA.

10 imperatives to reduce sepsis mortality

According to CDC, sepsis affects as many as 750,000 hospitalized patients in the United States annually.

For the study, researchers from Kaiser Permanente Northern California tracked 2010 data on 6.5 million hospitalizations at 1,051 facilities included in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample. They also examined data from Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals that included 483,828 overnight patient stays from 2010 to 2012.

They found that:

  • In the national sample, as many as 34.7% to 52% of patients who had died in a hospital had sepsis at the time of his or her death.
  • In the Kaiser sample, sepsis was a factor in 44.2% to 55.9% of patient deaths. More specifically, sepsis was listed as an explicit cause of death in 36.7% of cases and an implicit cause of death in 40.8% of cases.

Overall, the death rate for a patient with sepsis was about 10%, compared to about 1% for hospital patients without sepsis.

In addition, the researchers said the Kaiser data showed that about 56% of sepsis deaths were in patients with less severe cases, most of whom were treated in a non-ICU setting. It also showed that most sepsis was present at the time of admission.

Study: EHR data can be used to accurately predict sepsis

In addition, researchers found that nearly one-quarter of all hospital charges in the United States can be attributed to the treatment of sepsis. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospitalizations due to sepsis cost more than $24 billion per year.

The researchers suggest "standardized approaches and quality improvement and performance improvement efforts for less severe sepsis patients" to reduce sepsis mortality rates (Susman, MedPage Today, 5/19; Preidt, HealthDay, 5/19).

Improve sepsis outcomes with Crimson

We mined the Crimson cohort for best practices and clinical trends and identified nine areas where hospitals can change care processes to make the most impact on outcomes.

Our infographic outlines process improvement steps and corresponding data points for performance monitoring—and how Crimson can help.

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