America Has a $27 Billion Sepsis Crisis

July 14, 2017

New data suggest a striking rise in the deadly syndrome, but hospitals have a profit-motive to find it—and it may have been there all along.

Sepsis—a frequently lethal condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own organs while trying to fight off infection—is the top killer in U.S. hospitals, and the country has only recently begun to understand the scope of the problem.

A new government report suggests that sepsis cases tripled in the decade from 2005 to 2014, causing 1.5 million hospital stays by the end of that period. That’s alarming, but it may be misleading, too. Experts who study sepsis say the apparent increase is actually a reflection of how doctors are getting better at identifying cases they used to miss.

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