Sepsis overview


What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a serious medical condition caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection.  Immune chemicals released into the blood to combat the infection somehow trigger widespread inflammation, leading to blood clots and leaky vessels, which in turn, results in gangrene, multiple organ failures, shock and death.  As severity of sepsis progresses, the fatality rate also increases from 20% to nearly 80%.  Sepsis often arises unpredictably and progresses rapidly.  A patient can go from stable to shock and die within a matter of hours or days.  It can happen to anyone, but people with weakened immune systems, particularly children, infants and the elderly are most vulnerable.  Other at risk groups include people with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, AIDS, cancer and kidney or liver diseases, as well as those who have experienced a severe burn or physical trauma.


How bad is it?

Sepsis is currently the number one killer in the ICU and a top ten killer of all diseases.  There are over a million cases reported in the U.S. every year.  The cost for treating sepsis has doubled between 1997 – 2008, and it currently costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $17 billion a year.  Similar statistics are found in other industrialized nations.  It is an expensive problem that is growing at an astounding rate (5%-7% CAGR).  Every 4 seconds, somebody in the world dies from sepsis!