Skip to main content

Study Examines Sepsis and Septic Shock after Surgery

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-07-19 - Sepsis and septic shock appear to be more common than heart attacks or pulmonary blood clots - JAMA and Archives Journals.

Main Document

Sepsis and septic shock appear to be more common than heart attacks or pulmonary blood clots among patients having general surgery, and the death rate for patients with septic shock is approximately 34 percent within 30 days of operation, according to a report in the July issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Prevention of perioperative complications is a major focus in the care of the general-surgery patient," the authors write as background information in the article. In recent years, attention has been focused on prevention of venous thromboembolism (including post-operative deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots in the deep veins of the pelvis or extremities, and pulmonary embolism, or blood clots that travel to the lungs), myocardial infarction (heart attack) and surgical site infections. These efforts have resulted in awareness and reduction of these complications.

Sepsis, an infection that usually results from bacteria in the bloodstream and can result in failure of multiple organ systems, is another potentially preventable cause of illness and death in general surgery patients, the authors note. Laura J. Moore, M.D., and colleagues at The Methodist Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College, Houston, reviewed the incidence, mortality rate and risk factors for sepsis in general surgery patients using data from the 2005 to 2007 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.

Of 363,897 general surgery patients, sepsis occurred in 8,350 (2.3 percent), septic shock or life-threatening low blood pressure due to sepsis occurred in 5,977 (1.6 percent), pulmonary embolism occurred in 1,078 (0.3 percent) and heart attack occurred in 615 (0.2 percent). Death rates within 30 days were 5.4 percent for sepsis, 33.7 percent for septic shock, 9.1 percent for pulmonary embolism and 32 percent for heart attack.

The results suggest that sepsis continues to be a common and serious complication in general surgery patients and occurs more frequently than pulmonary embolism or heart attack. "Of note, septic shock occurs 10 times more frequently than myocardial infarction and has the same mortality rate; thus, it kills 10 times more people," the authors write. "Therefore, our level of vigilance in identifying sepsis and septic shock needs to mimic, if not surpass, our vigilance for identifying myocardial infarction and pulmonary embolism."

Risk factors for sepsis and septic shock included age older than 60, the need for emergency surgery and the presence of any co-occurring illness. Having such an illness increased the risk of sepsis and septic shock six-fold and the risk of dying within 30 days 22-fold.

"By identifying three major risk factors for the development of and death from sepsis and septic shock in general-surgery patients, we can heighten our awareness for sepsis and septic shock in these at-risk populations," the authors conclude. "The implementation of mandatory sepsis screening for these high-risk populations has resulted in decreased sepsis-related mortality within our institution. Further evaluation of the role of sepsis screening programs in other settings is critical and could significantly reduce sepsis-related mortality in general-surgery patients."



Information from our Varicose Veins: Types, Signs & Treatment section - (Full List).

Submit event details, disability news, and assistive technology products for publishing on Disabled World


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.



  1. Britain's Unproductive Disabled: A Continuing Moral Panic?
  2. Social Networking Helps Keep People Healthy
  3. Majority in Favor of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Screening
  4. When the Spinal Cord Takes Charge of Information Related to Movement




Citation



Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

Disclaimer: Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.