Research Study: Only a Small Percentage of Sepsis-Related Hospital Deaths Seen Preventable

Feb. 25, 2019
A new study published online in JAMA Network/Open finds that most sepsis-related deaths would not be preventable through improved care delivery processes

A new study published online in JAMA Network/Open finds that, despite nationwide efforts underway to reduce sepsis-related deaths, underlying conditions present will make doing so difficult. In an article entitled “Prevalence, Underlying Causes, and Preventability of Sepsis-Associated Morality in US Acute Care Hospitals,” Chanu Rhee, M.D., Travis M. Jones, PharmD, Yasir Hamad, MD, and eight other authors sought to isolate the elements in sepsis-related deaths in hospitals.

The study cohort, they wrote, included 568 patients (50.9-percent men, and of a mean age of 70.5), “who died in the hospital or were discharged to hospice. Sepsis was present in 300 hospitalizations and was the immediate cause of death in 198 cases,” they wrote.

The next most common immediate causes of death of patients with sepsis were solid cancer, chronic heart disease, hematologic cancer, dementia, and chronic lung disease.

Most significantly, the researchers found that “Suboptimal care, most commonly delays in antibiotics, was identified in 68 of 300 sepsis-associated deaths (22.7 percent). However, only 11 sepsis-associated deaths (3.7 percent) were judged definitely or moderately likely preventable; another 25 sepsis-associated deaths (8.3%) were considered possibly preventable.

“In this cohort from six U.S. hospitals, sepsis was the most common immediate cause of death,” the researchers wrote. “However, most underlying causes of death were related to severe chronic comorbidities and most sepsis-associated deaths were unlikely to be preventable through better hospital-based care. Further innovations in the prevention and care of underlying conditions may be necessary before a major reduction in sepsis-associated deaths can be achieved.”