One in five global deaths due to sepsis

Almost 20% of all global deaths are caused by sepsis, according to a study published in the Lancet (doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)32989-7).

The study used cause-of-death data from 109 million individual death records to calculate mortality related to sepsis from 19 countries around the world in 2017. An estimated 48·9 million (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 38.9–62.9) incident cases of sepsis were recorded and 11·0 million (10.1–12.0) sepsis-related deaths were reported, representing 19.7% (18.2–21.4) of all global deaths.

According to the authors, these estimates are more than double previous global figures, which they say is probably attributable to the inclusion of more data from low-income and middle-income countries, locations where sepsis incidence and mortality are considerably higher and for which data were previously under-represented. The difference between these current estimates and previous global estimates was especially striking among children, with more than half of all sepsis cases worldwide in 2017 occurred among children, many of them neonates, they say.

Nearly half of all sepsis-related deaths occurred secondary to sepsis, complicating an underlying injury or non-communicable disease.

The study authors conclude that research and policy interventions targeting antimicrobial resistance, an important driver of sepsis in health-care settings, are imperative.

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