The impact of post-operative sepsis on mortality after hospital discharge among elective surgical patients: A population-based cohort study

Lixin Ou, Jack Chen, Ken Hillman, Arthas Flabouris, Michael Parr, Hassan Assareh, Rinaldo Bellomo

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Background: Our aim in the present study was to assess the mortality impact of hospital-acquired post-operative sepsis up to 1 year after hospital discharge among adult non-short-stay elective surgical patients. Methods: We conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study of all elective surgical patients admitted to 82 public acute hospitals between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2012 in New South Wales, Australia. All adult elective surgical admission patients who stayed in hospital for ≥4 days and survived to discharge after post-operative sepsis were identified using the Admitted Patient Data Collection records linked with the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages. We assessed post-discharge mortality rates at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and 1 year and compared them with those of patients without post-operative sepsis. Results: We studied 144,503 survivors to discharge. Of these, 1857 (1.3%) had experienced post-operative sepsis. Their post-discharge mortality rates at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and 1 year were 4.6%, 6.7%, 8.1% and 13.5% (vs 0.7%, 1.2%, 1.5% and 3.8% in the non-sepsis cohort), respectively (P < 0.0001 for all). After adjustment for patient and hospital characteristics, post-operative sepsis remained independently associated with a higher mortality risk (30-day mortality HR 2.75, 95% CI 2.14-3.53; 60-day mortality HR 2.45, 95% CI 1.94-3.10; 90-day mortality HR 2.31, 95% CI 1.85-2.87; 1-year mortality HR 1.71, 95% CI 1.46-2.00). Being older than 75 years of age (HR 3.50, 95% CI 1.56-7.87) and presence of severe/very severe co-morbidities as defined by Charlson co-morbidity index (severe vs normal HR 2.05, 95% CI 1.45-2.89; very severe vs normal HR 2.17, 95% CI 1.49-3.17) were the only other significant independent predictors of increased 1-year mortality. Conclusions: Among elective surgical patients, post-operative sepsis is independently associated with increased post-discharge mortality up to 1 year after hospital discharge. This risk is particularly high in the first month, in older age patients and in the presence of severe/very severe co-morbidities. This high-risk population can be targeted for interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34
Number of pages13
JournalCritical Care
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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