Septic Shock Mortality Rate

Any serious infection in the body can lead to the life threatening complication of sepsis, especially in the advanced age group and people with a weak immune system. The body fights with any infection by releasing certain chemicals and substances in the blood stream to fight with the invading organisms, sometimes these chemicals trigger an inflammatory response which can damage various organs leading to multi organ failure. These changes can lead to a significant drop in blood pressure, leading to septic shock which can be fatal.

Septic Shock Mortality Rate

With latest advances in treatment options, the mortality rate for septic shock has decreased to 30-40%. Early diagnosis and aggressive antibiotic therapy within 6 hours of establishing the diagnosis has played a significant role in improving clinical outcome. Development of metabolic and lactic acidosis and multi organ failure can result in irreversible, life threatening septic shock.

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Mortality Rate for Sepsis

The prognosis of patients having sepsis depends upon a lot of factors like patient's age, severity of symptoms at diagnosis, and underlying medical conditions. Patients who are diagnosed at an early stage and show no signs of organ failure have a mortality rate of around 15-30% while new born babies and children developing sepsis have 9-36% chances of worst outcome.

Background information:

Symptoms and Causes of Septic Shock

What Are the Symptoms of Septic Shock?

To have best chances of survival, it is absolutely necessary to detect the presence of sepsis as early as possible, the sooner the treatment starts the better the results are, and the lower the septic shock mortality rate. If you have had a recent surgery or you or any loved one is feeling unwell and is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is advised to seek immediate medical advice to avoid the risk of septic shock.

  • Skin discoloration, the skin can appear mottled or patchy and may be cold and clammy
  • Decreased urine output and very infrequent need to go to the toilet
  • Breathing difficulties or feeling of suffocation
  • Light-headedness or weakness and lethargy
  • Very fast heart rate or palpitations
  • Chills, with or without fever
  • Confusion or altered conscious level

Sepsis can lead to a number of complications; the nature of these complications generally depends upon the underlying disease, such as the need for respiratory assistance in lung infections like pneumonia, and the severity of underling infection, such as the need for amputation following a severe limb infection resulting in septic shock.

Most of the complications are due to specific organ damage leading to organ failure and the main cause of death is multi organ (lung, liver, and kidney) failure. Early detection and fast administration of treatment ensures better outcomes and can prevent fatal complications, improving survival chances greatly.

What Causes Septic Shock?

All types of infections, bacterial, viral or fungal can lead to sepsis and septic shock. Bacterial infections are more likely to cause sepsis in hospitalized patients. The infection leading to sepsis can arise from any part of the body. The most common infections leading to sepsis are:

  • Lung Infections like bronchitis and pneumonia (25% of all patients having sepsis have lung infections as underlying cause)
  • Digestive tract infections
  • Infections arising from kidney and urinary tract
  • Reproductive system infections

Certain conditions like a compromised immune system due to medication or disease (HIV) puts patients at a greater risk of developing sepsis and septic shock mortality rate is particularly higher in them. Patients at extremes of age like very old or new born, pregnant women and people with underlying diabetes are also at a greater risk.

Sepsis is common after prolonged hospitalization or immobilization after surgery and in patients having catheters or breathing tubes. It is more likely to develop in extremely sick patients requiring ICU care. Drug abuse increases the risk of all infections as well as sepsis and septic shock.

Treatment to Lower Septic Shock Mortality Rate

The chances of surviving sepsis are greatly increased by early diagnosis and aggressive treatment. The main goal is to prevent life threatening complications and to provide support to vital body organs. Patients having sepsis require special care in hospital setting.

1.       Medications

  • Antibiotics: Immediate I/V antibiotics are the key to successful sepsis treatment. It is recommended to start antibiotic within six hours to avoid any complications. Generally broad spectrum antibiotics are started at first and can be changed to more suitable and specific ones after the test results are available or the organism causing infection is identified.
  • Vasopressors: These medicines help to stabilize and maintain blood pressure at an optimal level. They are generally started if the blood pressure remains low after fluid administration.

Other commonly used medicines include sedatives, pain killers and low dose corticosteroids. The choice of medicines depends upon the patient's condition, response to treatment and underlying disease.

2.       Supportive Care

Patients with sepsis are quite ill and require supportive care in the form of oxygen and I/V fluids. Artificial or mechanical breathing is required in cases of respiratory failure and dialysis is needed for patients having kidney failure.

3.       Surgery

Surgical intervention may be needed depending upon the cause of sepsis like drainage of pus from an abscess or in some cases removal of a severely infected organ, toe or limb.

How Can It Be Prevented?

The best approach to reduce septic mortality rate is to prevent and limit the causes of infections leading to sepsis, especially in high risk groups. Simple measures like maintaining good personal hygiene, vaccinations against certain life threatening infections and washing hands frequently can be very effective in preventing infections and reducing the chances of developing any serious complications resulting from it.

  • These measures are especially required for people with diabetes, compromised immune system or at the extremes of age due to their greater vulnerability to infections and likelihood of developing sepsis.
  • Prompt diagnosis and starting therapy as soon as possible plays a key role in preventing sepsis in all forms of infection.
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