Study provides evidence that sepsis-related mortality has steadily decreased over time

In critically ill patients in Australia and New Zealand with severe sepsis or septic shock, there was a decrease in the risk of death from 2000 to 2012, findings that were accompanied by changes in the patterns of discharge of intensive care unit (ICU) patients to home, rehabilitation, and other hospitals, according to a study appearing inJAMA. The study is being released early to coincide with its presentation at the International Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine.

Severe sepsis and septic shock are the biggest cause of death in critically ill patients. Over the last 20 years, multiple randomized controlled trials have attempted to identify new treatments to improve the survival of these patients, according to background information on the article. It is unknown whether progress has been made in decreasing mortality.

Kirsi-Maija Kaukonen, M.D., Ph.D., E.D.I.C., of Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined trends in mortality among 101,064 patients with severe sepsis or septic shock from 171 ICUs in Australia and New Zealand from 2000 to 2012.

The researchers found that absolute mortality from severe sepsis decreased from 35.0 percent to 18.4 percent during this time period, an annual rate of absolute decrease of 1.3 percent, and a relative risk reduction of 47.5 percent. The annual decline in mortality did not differ between patients with severe sepsis/septic shock and those with all other diagnoses.