Our expert answers 3 Questions
My research has focused on healthcare utilization and re-hospitalizations among patients who survive severe sepsis—a severe infection with associated organ dysfunction. Healthcare use is dramatically increased among severe sepsis survivors, even compared to their own pre-sepsis resource use, and compared to carefully matched patients hospitalized for other causes. Many of the hospitalizations in the 90 days after severe sepsis are for ambulatory care sensitive conditions—diagnoses that could be prevented or treated early in the outpatient setting to avoid a hospital stay.
Severe sepsis is an increasingly common illness. It is currently the most expensive cause of hospitalization in the U.S., and more patients develop and survive severe sepsis each year. The majority of severe sepsis survivors acquire new functional and cognitive limitations at the time of their sepsis hospitalization, and survivors often have extensive medical and mental health co-morbidities. The 90 days after severe sepsis hospitalization are a particularly vulnerable time, with high rates of hospitalization and death. Given the great burden of sepsis survivorship, small improvements in post-sepsis management could results in great benefits.
While we work to improve prevention and acute treatment of severe sepsis, we also need to develop mechanisms to promote recovery among the hundreds of thousands of Americans who survive a severe sepsis hospitalization each year. A small number of potentially preventable diagnoses account for a large number of the early re-hospitalizations after sepsis. This suggests an opportunity to leverage granular clinical data to predict patients’ personalized risks for a handful of common and potentially preventable conditions and to tailor care in the immediate post-hospital setting.