References & Sources

At least 245,000 cases in the UK every year

A bespoke analysis of HES data performed by UKST in 2017 showed that there were 200,000 admissions to hospitals in England with one of the ‘definitely sepsis’ diagnostic codes A41.0, A41.5, A41.9, R65.2, P36.9, R65.2.

Extrapolating this to the UK population, allowing for population growth since 2017, would give a figure of 244,158 cases across the UK for 2020, with higher numbers expected during a pandemic such as COVID-19.

On January 16th 2020, the  Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Washington corroborated this, in estimating the burden to the UK in 2017 to be 245,000 cases

11 Million deaths globally every year among 49 million cases

This new Global Burden of Sepsis study, led by Dr. Kristina Rudd and Mohsen Naghavi PhD of the University of Washington and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, was the first to produce data according to age, sex, location, and the underlying cause of sepsis.

The study found that there were 48.9 million cases of sepsis in 2017 resulting in 11 million deaths worldwide.  Prior to this analysis, the most recent global estimate of 19.4 million sepsis cases and 5.3 million sepsis-related deaths, was based on data from hospitalized adults in seven high-income countries by Fleischmann et al. Clearly during a pandemic such as COVID-19 this figure would be expected to be higher, but context is important. As at 15th July 2020, 13.3 million people worldwide have contracted COVID-19, with just over 570,000 people dying.

The most notable difference between prior estimates and the Global Burden of Sepsis study, he noted, is that half of all cases worldwide in 2017 occurred among children, many of whom were newborns particularly in resource-poor areas such as sub-Saharan Africa.

Up to 48,000 deaths in the UK every year

  • England, according to the report in the 2018 Lancet Journal of Respiratory Medicine by Prof Sir Brian Jarman had a mortality rate of 20.3%. With around 245,000 patients developing sepsis annually across the UK, extrapolating this figure would give 49,735 lives lost each year
  • The IHME study again corroborated this figure, suggesting that the UK loses 48,000 people to sepsis each year. Again, during a pandemic we would expect this figure to be higher.

Nearly 80,000 people each year suffer life-changing after-effects

Around 40% of survivors (0.4 x (245,000-48,000)= 78,800 have one or more of cognitive, psychological or physical sequelae.

Extrapolated from:
Prescott HC, Angus D. Enhancing recovery from sepsis- a review. JAMA 2018; 319(1):62-75
Iwashyna TJ, Ely EW et al. Long-term cognitive impairment and functional disability among survivors of severe sepsis. JAMA 2010 304(16):1787-94

Sepsis kills more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined 

Bowel: 16,300
Prostate: 11,700 = = 39,400

Better awareness could save thousands of lives a year 

With an incidence of around 360 cases per 100,000 population per year, mortality of approximately 20% and with patients presenting early being around half as likely to die than those presenting late; we estimate that 1 in 2800 to 1 in 5000 episodes of awareness has potential to save a life.

25,000 child cases every year in the UK

Hospital Episode Statistics – for years 2010-11 to 2014-15

It’s important to note that this refers to ‘cases’ of sepsis – many of these children will have suffered more than one episode. Sepsis preferentially affects very premature or low birth weight children, as well as those with complex underlying health conditions.

As common as heart attacks 

In the UK there are just over 200,000 hospital visits each year due to heart attacks: that’s 1 every 3 minutes – see