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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Aug 26;65(33):864-9. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6533e1.

Vital Signs: Epidemiology of Sepsis: Prevalence of Health Care Factors and Opportunities for Prevention.



Sepsis is a serious and often fatal clinical syndrome, resulting from infection. Information on patient demographics, risk factors, and infections leading to sepsis is needed to integrate comprehensive sepsis prevention, early recognition, and treatment strategies.


To describe characteristics of patients with sepsis, CDC and partners conducted a retrospective chart review in four New York hospitals. Random samples of medical records from adult and pediatric patients with administrative codes for severe sepsis or septic shock were reviewed.


Medical records of 246 adults and 79 children (aged birth to 17 years) were reviewed. Overall, 72% of patients had a health care factor during the 30 days before sepsis admission or a selected chronic condition likely to require frequent medical care. Pneumonia was the most common infection leading to sepsis. The most common pathogens isolated from blood cultures were Escherichia coli in adults aged ≥18 years, Klebsiella spp. in children aged ≥1 year, and Enterococcus spp. in infants aged <1 year; for 106 (33%) patients, no pathogen was isolated. Eighty-two (25%) patients with sepsis died, including 65 (26%) adults and 17 (22%) infants and children.


Infection prevention strategies (e.g., vaccination, reducing transmission of pathogens in health care environments, and appropriate management of chronic diseases) are likely to have a substantial impact on reducing sepsis. CDC, in partnership with organizations representing clinicians, patients, and other stakeholders, is launching a comprehensive campaign to demonstrate that prevention of infections that cause sepsis, and early recognition of sepsis, are integral to overall patient safety.

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