Sepsis Alliance Responds to Study Revealing Sepsis as Number One Cause of Hospital Readmissions

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A recent study confirms sepsis as responsible for the most readmissions to a hospital within 30 days after a hospital visit. The life-threatening and often misunderstood condition is also the most expensive diagnosis, leading to readmissions costing more than $3.1 billion per year.

Sepsis Alliance

Sepsis Alliance

The findings have implications for sepsis care in hospitals and the need for improved communication with patients and transitional care post discharge.

Sepsis Alliance, the nation's leading sepsis patient advocacy group, commends the findings of a recent study, which found that sepsis is responsible for the most readmissions to a hospital within 30 days after a hospital visit, with more than 191,000 readmissions each year, and is also the most expensive diagnosis, leading to readmissions costing more than $3.1 billion in 2013.

The findings were reported in a November 2015 statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nationwide Readmissions Database (NRD). This HCUP Statistical Brief, Trends in Hospital Readmissions for Four High-Volume Conditions, 2009-2013, reports on hospital readmissions in the United States in 2013. Kathryn Fingar, Ph.D., M.P.H and Raynard Washington, Ph.D. authored the brief.

“The findings have implications for sepsis care in hospitals and the need for improved communication with patients and transitional care post discharge,” said Thomas Heymann, Executive Director of Sepsis Alliance. “Fewer than half of Americans have heard of sepsis and many hospitals do not have sepsis protocols in place to ensure prompt recognition, proper treatment, and successful post-discharge outcomes.”

Sepsis, sometimes called blood poisoning by the general public, is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection injures its own tissues and organs. Annually, sepsis kills 258,000 people in the United States alone, or one person every two minutes. Sepsis is a medical emergency that requires early diagnosis and rapid treatment with antibiotics and fluids.

In August 2013, HCUP and AHRQ reported that sepsis is the most expensive condition treated in hospitals. According to the study, sepsis resulted in an aggregate healthcare cost of $20.3 billion in 2011, accounting for U.S. hospital-related costs only.

“With 191,000 sepsis patients requiring readmission to the hospital within 30 days every year, there is clearly much to be done.” said Dr. Jim O’Brien, Medical Director and Board Chair of Sepsis Alliance. “Hospitals need to better understand the high risk of readmission among survivors of sepsis and to provide better transitions of care to improve recovery. Researchers need to explore the modifiable factors associated with the high rate of readmissions among sepsis survivors and to develop tactics to reduce this risk. Survivors and families need to understand that they remain at risk for poorer outcomes even after surviving sepsis.”

"These findings demonstrate the importance of sepsis as an epidemic in this country driving readmissions and cost," said Heymann. "We hope that the staggering statistics around sepsis start to generate a proportional response."

More information on the two publications mentioned can be viewed online at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Website. To learn more, visit:

https://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb196-Readmissions-Trends-High-Volume-Conditions.jsp

http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb160.jsp

About Sepsis Alliance

Sepsis Alliance is the leading nonprofit patient advocacy organization in North America promoting prevention and awareness of sepsis. Sepsis Alliance's mission is to save lives by raising awareness of sepsis as a medical emergency. The organization hosts national and community events, distributes educational information, and promotes training and education of sepsis and its devastating effects. Sepsis Alliance also provides support by giving patients and family members information about sepsis and post sepsis syndrome, as well as a community forum to share their experiences. Sepsis Alliance, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a GuideStar Gold Rated Charity. For more information, please visit http://www.sepsis.org.

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Scott Carr
Sepsis Alliance
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