CDC: Sepsis Cost $14.6B in 2008

John Commins, June 22, 2011

The number of septicemia and sepsis hospitalizations more than doubled between 2000 and 2008, resulting in much longer, costlier hospitals stays, and more problematic and often fatal outcomes for patients with the bloodstream infections, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Reasons for these increases may include an aging population with more chronic illnesses; greater use of invasive procedures, immunosuppressive drugs, chemotherapy, and transplantation; and increasing microbial resistance to antibiotics. Increased coding of these conditions due to greater clinical awareness of septicemia or sepsis may also have occurred during the period studied," said the study, Inpatient Care for Septicemia or Sepsis: A Challenge for Patients and Hospitals, a data brief compiled by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Hospitalizations for septicemia or sepsis as a principal diagnosis grew from 326,000 in 2000 to 727,000 in 2008. In the same time span, the rate of the hospitalizations also more than doubled from 11.6 per 10,000 population to 24 per 10,000, and cost an estimated $14.6 billion to treat in 2008, the report said.

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The report, like studies conducted by the Dartmouth Atlas and others, shows that there is little correlation between how much a hospital spends and the quality of patient outcomes.

"Even with this expenditure, the death rate was high. Patients who do survive severe cases are more likely to have negative long-term effects on health and on cognitive and physical functioning," the report said.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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