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[Infographic] The Real Impact of Sepsis in the US

by George Farmer on September 11, 2017 at 4:20 PM

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Sepsis is the leading cause of death in US hospitals, yet only 55 percent of US citizens have ever heard of sepsis. Since September is sepsis awareness month, Intermedix wanted to help give individuals an idea of the true scope of this devastating condition by presenting an infographic detailing the exponential clinical and financial costs of sepsis.

Sepsis may be an enigma in part because of its evolving definition and nuanced diagnosis. However, at its core, sepsis is a dysfunctional immune response to an infection that, if not detected and treated early, leads to systemic organ failure–or septic shock.

Although it’s still widely unknown, sepsis is responsible for 1.6 million deaths a year. It’s the leading cause of death in the US and continues to grow; sepsis-related hospitalizations have increased 180 percent since 2012. Of those with severe sepsis, 40 percent do not survive.

A Growing Concern for CFOs

The rising prevalence of sepsis poses a significant concern to hospital Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) who may not realize the substantial cost and devastating clinical impact that sepsis has on hospitals. Sepsis has the highest cost of hospitalization in the US: it costs more than double of any other condition. The cost is due to the extraordinary difficulty in diagnosing sepsis early, before a patient’s condition has already deteriorated and they’re admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Additionally, sepsis is also the leading cause of readmissions, costing US hospitals $3 billion annually in readmissions alone. These figures can add up, making sepsis account for as much as 6.2 percent of total hospital costs.

A Familiar Foe for CMOs

While the impact of sepsis may be shocking to hospital leaders on the financial side, most hospital Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) are acutely aware of the devastating clinical impact of sepsis. Sepsis is particularly challenging for physicians because its symptoms are often accompanied by other co-morbidities, making it difficult to identify before organ failure occurs. In fact, 86 percent of physicians state that symptoms of sepsis are misattributed to other conditions. This is extremely problematic given that the mortality rate increases by 7.6 percent for every hour sepsis goes untreated. Unfortunately, the extreme difficulty of diagnosing sepsis early in the care continuum, coupled with its high mortality rate, means that sepsis accounts for an average of 50 percent of all hospital deaths.

Hospital-Wide Issue

In many ways, CFOs are the key holders to many clinical initiatives in the hospital. Similarly, hospital CMOs have a financial stake in patient outcomes as well. Sepsis is a hospital-wide issue that spans the goals and skill sets of hospital leaders.

Studies show that 80 percent of sepsis deaths could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment. Such rapid diagnosis and treatment will require close collaboration between both CFOs and CMOs if the positive clinical and financial opportunities are to be realized, saving lives and reducing costs in tandem. Click here to view the infographic and get more data on the current cost of sepsis and opportunities to improve with early identification. 

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This post was written by George Farmer

George Farmer is a public relations specialist at Intermedix. Prior to joining Intermedix, George served as a marketing and communications coordinator for the Michigan Health Information Network where he supported the use of technology to advance care coordination, improve patient outcomes and reduce costs across the continuum of care. George is a proud graduate of Michigan State University where he graduated with a Bachelor's in Advertising and a Specialization in Public Relations.

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