How Common is Sepsis Mortality?

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  • Written By: Mike Howells
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Sepsis mortality is the term given to death that occurs from the systemic response to blood poisoning known as sepsis. It is inevitable if the underlying condition is not treated promptly and comprehensively, and death occurs in roughly a third of all sepsis cases, and 50& of septic shock cases. Sepsis is the progressive shutting down of the body as a result of severe infection. A variety of therapies, from intravenous antibiotics to dialysis, are generally required to prevent sepsis mortality outright.

At its root, sepsis is the body's response to infection on a systemic scale. Similar to the way a finger or toe may swell when infected, inflammation of the entire body occurs when an infection becomes bloodborne and begins to travel through the circulatory system. This response is known as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). The mere presence of harmful bacteria in the body is not enough to be classified as sepsis, and the diagnosis is strictly based on there being a bodily response to the infection in the form of SIRS.


Following a positive diagnosis, swift action must be taken to limit the chance of sepsis mortality. Antibiotics are key in fighting the infectious cause of the problem, while other regimens may be necessary to limit side effects caused by the diminished functioning of organs. Dialysis and mechanical ventilation are two treatments that are commonly administered to those suffering from severe sepsis. In addition to such specialized treatments, routine therapies to combat a high fever, fluid loss, and other typical side effects of bacterial illness are needed. These include intravenous fluid and nutrition intake, as well as blood transfusions and managed use of pain-killers.

Sepsis mortality, when it does occur, is usually directly attributable to failure of critical organ functions. Lung and kidney functions are often the first to begin failing, as well as the heart. Neurological damage can also lead to death in some cases. In many instances a number of factors combine to overwhelm the body, which is a condition known as multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS).

Even with a swift response, sepsis mortality occurs within a month for roughly a third of patients diagnosed with severe sepsis. For those diagnosed with septic shock, a critically dangerous condition caused by trauma such as gunshot wounds, the mortality rate is upwards of fifty percent. Septic shock is also more frequent among the aged, the young, and those with suppressed or non-functioning immune systems. Regardless of the severity, sepsis can remain a danger for months after initial diagnosis, and many who survive may still suffer permanently decreased organ function as a result.



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