Patients Hospitalized for Septicemia in US Double from 2000 to 2009

Septicemia was the most expensive condition hospitalizing patients in the United Stats in 2009, costing hospitals nearly $15.4 billion, and was the sixth most common reason for hospitalization, according to a study released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

A diagnosis of septicemia comprised 836,000 of all hospital stays during 2009, more than doubling the number of stays in 2000, which was 337,100. There were an additional 829,500 stays in 2009 associated with a secondary diagnosis of septicemia, the study noted.

“If all hospital patients with any mention of septicemia are included — those with a principal diagnosis and those with a secondary diagnosis of septicemia — nearly one out of every 23 patients in the hospital (4.2%) had septicemia,” the authors wrote, adding that 4,600 new patients per day were treated for septcemia.

Researchers said septicemia has a 16.3% in-hospital mortality rate, more than 8 times higher than other stays. From 1997 to 2008, septicemia hospital costs increased at an annual rate of 11.9%, nearly 3 times the rate for overall hospital stays.

The most common bacterium causing septicemia was E.coli for patients with a primary diagnosis. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was most common for patients with a secondary diagnosis. Complications involving implants, devices, or grafts were the most common reason for hospitalization, representing 20% of all stays. More than half of the cases cited no organism as the cause for the disease, according to the study.

Age was a major factor in contracting the disease: 80.1% of patients were 45 years or older and 52.7% were 65 years or older. Medicare was the primary method of payment for 58.1% of patients. Average per-day hospital stays for septicemia increased from $1,700 to $2,300.

For more information:

  • Elixhauser A, Friedman B, Stranges E. Septicemia in U.S. hospitals, 2009. Agency for healthcare research and quality. Healthcare cost and utilization project: statistical brief #122. October 2011.

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