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Is Sepsis-Associated Mortality Preventable?

JAMA Netw Open; 2019 Feb 15; Rhee, et al

Most sepsis-associated deaths in US acute care hospitals are unlikely to be preventable through better hospital-based care, a new study suggests. The cohort study reviewed the medical records of 568 patients (50.9% men, mean age 70.5 years) who were admitted to 6 hospitals and died in the hospital or were discharged to hospice and not readmitted. Researchers found:

  • Sepsis was the most common immediate cause of death.
  • Sepsis was present in 300 hospitalizations (52.8%) and directly caused death in 198 (34.9%) cases.
  • However, most underlying causes of death were related to severe chronic comorbidities.
  • Additionally, only 11 sepsis-associated deaths (3.7%) were judged definitely or moderately likely preventable; another 25 sepsis-associated deaths (8.3%) were considered possibly preventable.


Rhee C, Jones TM, Hamad Y, et al. Prevalence, underlying causes, and preventability of sepsis-associated mortality in US acute care hospitals. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(2):e187571. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.7571.