Risk of death for sepsis survivors lasts for up to five years

June 28, 2019

Patients who survive sepsis are at higher risk of death for up to five years, according to analysis of national data by a Guy’s and St Thomas’ doctor.

The research, published in JAMA Network Open, found that 15 percent of sepsis survivors died within a year of leaving hospital, with a further 6 to 8 percent dying every year over the next five years.

Sepsis is a serious complication of infection. It occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection. Without quick treatment, it can lead to multiple organ failure and death. There are around 250,000 cases of sepsis a year in the UK, according to the UK Sepsis Trust.

Thanks to advances in the care modern hospitals provide, more and more patients are surviving sepsis. Dr. Manu Shankar-Hari, a critical care physician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and NIHR Clinician Scientist, led this research. His previous work has led to advances that could help diagnose sepsis early, and he was recently awarded an international Fellowship to expand his research into sepsis.

The team analyzed data from 94,748 sepsis survivors, who recovered following their admissions with sepsis to 200 Intensive Care Units in England. The researchers wanted to understand the long-term risk of death in sepsis survivors in England and to identify risk factors to inform clinicians how best to monitor sepsis survivors after they leave hospital.

Many of the risk factors are known when a sepsis survivor leaves hospital. For example, factors such as advanced age, being male, having other conditions, longer stays in hospital and severity of sepsis at admission increased the chance of dying.

These results highlight where future research should be directed to help improve long-term outcomes for sepsis survivors.

The research was funded by Dr Shankar-Hari’s NIHR Clinician Scientist Award. It was performed in collaboration with researchers at the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre.

NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ BRC has the full article