Are there any long-term effects of sepsis?
Many patients who survive severe sepsis recover completely, and their lives return to normal. But some people can have permanent organ damage. For example, in someone who already has impaired kidneys, sepsis can lead to kidney failure that requires lifelong dialysis. If sepsis affects the brain, a person may have problems with thinking, memory, or concentration.
There’s also some evidence that severe sepsis permanently disrupts a person’s immune system, placing them at greater risk for future infections. Studies have shown that people who have experienced sepsis may have a higher risk of various medical conditions or death, even several years after the episode.
More information about the long-term effects of sepsis is available from the
CDC and the Journal of the American Medical Association’s
What is the economic cost of sepsis?
Estimates vary, but the costs of sepsis treatment can be quite substantial. Treatment often involves a prolonged stay in the intensive care unit and complex therapies. People with sepsis are two to three times more likely to be readmitted to the hospital than people with many other conditions, such as heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Development of sepsis may also be linked with other illnesses like pneumonia.
What research is being done on sepsis?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports many studies focused on sepsis (visit the
NIH RePORTER database), some of which are
clinical trials that will evaluate the effectiveness of potential treatments. Other scientists seek
molecular clues in patients’ blood that could diagnose sepsis early or predict who might be more prone to the condition, allowing doctors to prevent it. Some try to find ways to estimate when and how a sepsis patient’s condition will decline, or if a certain therapy is appropriate for particular patients. Still others examine sepsis in specific populations, such as premature babies; people with known risk factors, such as diabetes, cancer, or kidney or liver disease; or long-term sepsis survivors.