Individuals who survive tissue damage and organ failure caused by sepsis may have a higher risk of “late death.”

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System are generating new data on the causes of sepsis-related late death, but it is unclear whether the sepsis itself or a pre-existing health problem is driving the elevated mortality rate.

A study in the current issue of the BMJ suggests that pre-existing conditions alone do not account for late death. The findings suggest that “long-term mortality after sepsis could be more amenable to intervention than previously thought,” according to the study.

Researchers found that compared with the patients admitted to the hospital with a non-sepsis infection, patients with sepsis had a 10% absolute increase in late death.

The study also found a 16% absolute increase in late death among sepsis patients compared with those admitted with sterile inflammatory conditions. Sepsis was also associated with a 22% absolute increase in late mortality relative to similar, hospitalized adults.

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