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'Stunning' Number of Sepsis Cases Among Patients Who Die in Hospitals

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 19, 2014

Researchers find that as many as one in every two patients who die while hospitalized have sepsis. Many, the report says, come to the hospital with mild or early-stage cases, which go under-recognized.

As many as one in two or one in three patients who die while hospitalized have sepsis, according to a report by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California and others.

Most of those who died were septic at admission but not severely ill, so treatment may have been delayed.

The report looked at records from seven million non-obstetric patients hospitalized between 2010 and 2012, most of which were obtained from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) of 1,051 hospitals, and the rest from 21 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California.

"That a substantial fraction of all patients who die in the hospital is as high as one in every two patients seems fairly substantial, and even a stunning number," says Vincent Liu, MD, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and the principal author of the report.

He says the finding points to an under-recognition of patients who come to the hospital with less severe or early-stage cases of sepsis, and says the finding should make clinicians appreciate even more the importance of early recognition of sepsis.

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