A comprehensive study conducted by the University of Manchester has unveiled alarming disparities in sepsis mortality rates across different socioeconomic groups. The findings, published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, paint a stark picture of inequities in healthcare outcomes.
The study analyzed data from over 248,000 cases of non-Covid sepsis in England between 2019 and 2022. The research team led by Professor Tjeerd van Staa and Xiaomin Zhong discovered that individuals from the most deprived communities were twice as likely to succumb to sepsis within a 30-day period compared to the general population.
Furthermore, the study identified several other groups at an elevated risk of sepsis mortality:
- Individuals with learning disabilities were four times more likely to develop sepsis.
- Patients with liver disease faced a threefold increase in sepsis risk.
- Individuals with stage 5 chronic kidney disease were over six times more susceptible to sepsis.
The study also highlighted the increased risk among cancer patients, those with brain diseases, and individuals with immunosuppressive conditions. Additionally, the team observed a heightened risk in patients who had undergone multiple courses of antibiotic treatment.
Commenting on the study’s findings, Professor van Staa and Xiaomin Zhong stated, “This study demonstrates that socioeconomic deprivation, comorbidity, and learning disabilities are associated with an increased risk of developing non-Covid related sepsis and 30-day mortality in England.”
The researchers emphasized that their findings should serve as a guide for healthcare professionals worldwide, enabling them to identify sepsis earlier and initiate treatment promptly. They acknowledged the challenges in diagnosing sepsis due to its varied symptoms, which can mimic other illnesses.
Dr. Ron Daniels, founder and joint CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust, underscored the significance of socioeconomic factors and underlying health conditions in determining sepsis risk. He noted that these factors often overlap and are further linked to ethnicity.
Last month, the NHS ombudsman reported persistent “serious failings” in sepsis management within the health service, leading to avoidable deaths. The ombudsman, Rob Behrens, identified delays in diagnosis and treatment, poor communication, and missed opportunities for follow-up care as recurring issues. He emphasized the need for the NHS to adopt a “sepsis-aware” approach.
The study’s findings underscore the urgent need to address the disparities in sepsis mortality. By understanding the underlying factors and implementing targeted interventions, healthcare systems can work towards ensuring equitable outcomes for all patients, regardless of their socioeconomic status or underlying health conditions.