Sepsis Burden Higher Than Thought

March 5, 2020

As sepsis awareness rises among both the public and healthcare professionals, people are also becoming more aware of the sepsis burden – and it is higher than previously thought. The latest information, released in mid-February, results from an analysis and findings gathered from three papers. These included data gleaned from more than 9.5 million hospital admissions in the United States over seven years, from 2012 to 2018.


The basic information regarding the sepsis burden comes down to:

  • 40% increase in Medicare beneficiaries admitted to hospital for sepsis
  • Only 57% of sepsis patients were able to live at home six months after hospitalization versus 80% of non-sepsis patients
  • Every year, more than 1.7 million people in the U.S. develop sepsis
  • Death rate from sepsis continues to be more than a quarter of a million people every year
  • Average cost over a year for acute care for sepsis, in the U.S., is over $62 billion. This does not include doctor bills or outpatient care after discharge. This number also doesn’t include economic losses suffered by the patient and caregivers.
  • Hospital admissions for sepsis in 2018 was about 65% higher than in 2012
  • In 2018, Medicare spent $41.5 billion for sepsis hospitalizations and skilled nursing care after discharge
  • Approximately 10% of Medicare patients with non-severe sepsis died while in hospital or during the week following discharge
  • Approximately 60% of Medicare patients with non-severe sepsis died within three years of their illness

Press release

A press release issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services quotes HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Dr. Robert Kadlec, as saying: “Sepsis is a lethal and costly health threat affecting Americans’ lives and our economy, yet many Americans may have never heard of it. Any infection can lead to sepsis, including infections caused by influenza or emerging diseases like coronaviruses, which makes sepsis a significant concern in public health emergencies.”

There have been many initiatives over the years to help people to understand what sepsis is. The goal is to help them identify and treat sepsis in a timely manner. Researchers are also trying to help people to understand the burden the illness places on society. “To save lives in public health emergencies, we must solve sepsis,” said study co-author Rick Bright, PhD, in the press release. “The findings of this study have implications not only for patient care, particularly after patients are discharged, but also for investments by industry, non-government organizations and government agencies. Solving sepsis requires working together. Because of the health security implications, we are taking a holistic approach to this national threat.” Dr. Bright is also the HHS deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR) and director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) at ASPR.

If you have an infection or you are at risk of infection, remember TIME:

help reduce the sepsis burden by remembering TIME


To learn more about the signs and symptoms of sepsis, click here.