Sepsis Is Often Unsuspected Culprit in Thousands of Hospital Deaths

Sepsis contributes to as many as half of all hospital deaths in the United States each year, many of them preventable, according to a recent study by Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

Sepsis, which is sometimes called a blood infection, is the body’s out-of-whack inflammatory response to an infection. Its symptoms can include a high fever or low temperature, elevated heart rate and difficulty breathing. Early recognition is key to treating it.

Six years after contracting sepsis, Pamela Popp is healthy enough to enjoy time with her llamas. Medical staff treating Popp, an attorney in Evergreen, missed the diagnosis and she was hospitalized for a month. The medical costs bankrupted her, and she still suffers after-effects from the illness. (MiKe Martin Media/Special to Rocky Mountain PBS I-News)

Mike Martin Media / Mike Martin Media

Six years after contracting sepsis, Pamela Popp is healthy enough to enjoy time with her llamas. Medical staff treating Popp, an attorney in Evergreen, missed the diagnosis and she was hospitalized for a month. The medical costs bankrupted her, and she still suffers after-effects from the illness. (MiKe Martin Media/Special to Rocky Mountain PBS I-News)

As Rocky Mountain PBS I-News reported last week from a sepsis conference at University of Colorado Hospital,  some 12,000 Coloradans are expected to get sepsis this year, according to Dr. Judy Zerzan, the state’s chief medical officer. Around 3,000 of those infected will die.

The average sepsis mortality rate in Colorado is 21 percent.

Sepsis Alliance is working to teach patients, doctors and nurses to “Suspect Sepsis.” With early recognition, sepsis can be treated with fluids and antibiotics.

Without early treatment, sepsis can progress quickly.

“Pretty much a vast majority of the people who come to the hospital will have some risk factor,” says Tara Crockett of Medical Simulation Corporation, a company that helps healthcare facilities improve their performance.

Finding it requires “being a detective,” she said.

Sepsis Death Rate at Front Range Hospitals from 2010 to 2012

FacilityDeath Rate
Parker Adventist8.8%
Exemple Good Samaritan9.9%
Exempla Saint Joseph11.9%
Banner Health McKee13.6%
North Colorado Medical Center13.8%
Penrose-St. Francis Hospital15.7%
Exempla Lutheran Medical Center15.9%
Denver Health17.3%
Presbyterian/St. Luke's18.4%
University of Colorado Hospital18.7%
Sky Ridge Medical Center19.4%
Medical Center in Longmont20.0%
Rose Medical Center20.0%
Medical Center of Aurora20.4%
Colorado Average20.8%
St. Anthony Hospital20.8%
North Suburban Medical Center21.2%
Parkview Medical Center21.7%
Littleton Adventist Hospital21.7%
St. Anthony North Hospital22.2%
Porter Adventist Hospital23.6%
St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center24.6%
Poudre Valley Hospital25.2%
Medical Center of the Rockies25.2%
Swedish Medical Center25.8%
Memorial Hospital26.0%
Platte Valley Medical Center28.4%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *