Analysis of national data by King’s College London researchers has found that patients who survive sepsis are at higher risk of death for up to five years.

The research, published in JAMA Network Open today, found that 15% of sepsis survivors died within a year of leaving hospital, with a further 6% to 8% dying every year over the next five years.

The team analysed data from 94,748 sepsis survivors who recovered following their admissions with sepsis to 200 Intensive Care Units in England, and wanted to understand the long-term risk of death in sepsis survivors in England, to identify risk factors and inform clinicians how best to monitor sepsis survivors after they leave the hospital.

“This is the first report of long-term risk of death in sepsis survivors using national data from England. We now know the magnitude of this long-term risk of death in sepsis survivors”, explained Dr Manu Shankar-Hari, NIHR clinician scientist.

He continued, “Being able to identify patients at the highest risk is key for us as clinicians, as it helps to plan ongoing care. Given what we now know, we will be trying to find out what the best interventions are to prevent these deaths, how to identify those sepsis survivors who are at greatest risk and more likely to benefit the most from such interventions.

“More importantly, this new research informs the health policy debate around how to plan follow-up care of sepsis survivors and critical illness survivors in general.”

Sepsis is a serious complication of infection. It occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection. Without quick treatment, it can lead to multiple organ failure and death. There are around 250,000 cases of sepsis a year in the UK, according to the UK Sepsis Trust.