Hospitalizations for Severe Sepsis in California

Sepsis is a preventable, life-threatening medical condition, which if not treated timely and properly, can result in a severe condition with multiple organ failure (severe sepsis) and death. Sepsis impacts approximately 1.7 million people annually in the United States (CDC: What is Sepsis?). Hospitalizations for sepsis are among the most expensive In California, hospital charges totaled $62.8 billion in 2019 (OSHPD Patient Discharge Data).  

The visualizations below present patient information on in-hospital and 30-day mortality, length of stay, charges and payers for severe sepsis hospitalizations, and hospital characteristics including hospital size, location, ownership and designations as a teaching facility.

Severe Sepsis – Patient Information

Key Findings:

  • From 2012-2019, the number of severe sepsis cases nearly doubled, while the number of in-hospital deaths for severe sepsis remained the same.
  • The number of hospital-acquired severe sepsis cases remained steady over the past several years, while the instances of non-hospital-acquired severe sepsis cases increased. Therefore, the majority of severe sepsis cases were acquired outside the hospital.
  • Even though the average length of stay for severe sepsis decreased, the median charge per day increased by 18 percent. Charges may not reflect the actual cost paid by the patient.
  • Medicare was the expected payer for more hospitalized severe sepsis cases than any other payer. The number of severe sepsis cases increased for most expected payers with exception for Self-Pay and Other Payer categories.
  • Most severe sepsis patients who died within 30 days following discharge died at a skilled nursing facility. Although the percentage of deaths in skilled nursing facilities gradually declined over the years, a notable decrease occurred in 2015 with the introduction of Hospice Care as a discharge category.
  • The percentage of hospital-acquired severe sepsis patients who died within 30 days of discharge decreased appreciably over time.

Patient Information, 2012-2019

Severe Sepsis – Hospital Characteristics

Key Findings:

  • The smallest hospitals (1-99 beds) had the highest rates of hospital-acquired severe sepsis compared to other facility sizes.
  • Urban hospitals had approximately double the rates of hospital-acquired severe sepsis compared to rural hospitals. The rates in both types of facilities remained consistent over time with no notable shifts.
  • Nonprofit hospitals had the lowest rates of hospital-acquired severe sepsis.
  • Teaching hospitals had higher rates of hospital-acquired severe sepsis compared to non-teaching hospitals. The rates in teaching hospitals increased steadily.

Hospital Characteristics, 2012-2019

General Information About Sepsis

  • Sepsis: the body’s extreme response to an infection. Almost any type of infection can lead to sepsis.
  • Sepsis symptoms: high heart rate or low blood pressure, chills, fever, extreme pain or discomfort, confusion, shortness of breath or clammy/sweaty skin.
  • Hospital-acquired sepsis: acquired while a patient is hospitalized for another illness or procedure.
  • Severe sepsis: without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
  • People in high-risk of developing sepsis: the very young, the very old, those with chronic illnesses, and those with a weakened or impaired immune system.
  • For more information on sepsis visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Additional Information

Topic: Healthcare Quality
Temporal Coverage: 2012-2019
Spatial/Geographic Coverage: Statewide
Geographic Granularity: Statewide
Frequency: Annually
Source Link:
Citation: Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development: Patient Discharge Data