Sepsis, a serious condition that arises from the body’s response to infection, can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, sepsis is the leading cause of deaths in U.S. hospitals, at a cost of $23,663,000.1 The Sepsis Alliance website notes that 1.6 million people are diagnosed with sepsis every year, one every 20 seconds. Some 258,000 sepsis patients die every year, one every 2 minutes, which is more than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS deaths combined.2 Sepsis also accounts for the highest number of hospital readmissions, 12 percent, with each readmission costing approximately $10,070.3
Stephen Claypool, MD, Medical Director, Wolters Kluwer Clinical Software Solutions, explained further, “Sepsis is always precipitated by another infection. There is no single lab test that identifies sepsis. Instead, it’s a judgement based on multiple clinical factors, and it’s subjective. This has led to experts agreeing on a diagnosis less than 30 percent of the time,4 thus complicating an adequate understanding of the true sepsis death toll.
“Although mortalities from infectious illnesses usually originate from sepsis, it’s rarely listed as the primary cause of death,” noted Claypool. He said that the Iwashyna study found that “physicians document sepsis less than 10 percent of the time, which severely limits accurate communication to patients and families,”4 and that is yet another reason why sepsis does not get the recognition it merits.