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The Number of Americans Treated for Potentially Fatal Blood Poisoning Is Increasing

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: August 30, 2005

The number of Americans treated in hospitals for septicemia—potentially deadly bacterial infection of the blood stream also known as blood poisoning—increased from 666,000 cases in 1993 to over 1 million cases in 2003, according to the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

  • Another way of understanding the increase is through the number of hospital cases of septicemia per every 100,000 Americans, since the change in ratio takes into account the growth of the U.S. population during this time frame. This ratio rose from 258 cases per every 100,000 persons in 1993 to 355 cases per every 100,000 Americans in 2003.
  • The number of cases includes patients who were admitted because of septicemia (principal diagnosis), as well as patients admitted for other reasons but who also had the infection (secondary diagnosis).
  • More than 65 percent of all cases of septicemia occur in patients age 65 and older.
  • Deaths among patients who were admitted for septicemia increased from 49,000 in 1993 to 66,000 in 2003—a nearly 12 percent increase in the death rate.
  • Hospital charges for patients admitted for septicemia also rose—from $25,000 for the average hospital stay in 1993 to an average of $34,000 per stay in 2003. This translates into a 28 percent increase (controlling for inflation).


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