Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Dec 24:ciab1045. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab1045. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Sepsis causes a major health burden in the United States. To better understand the role of sepsis as a driver of the burden and cost of foodborne illness in the United States, we estimated the frequency and treatment cost of sepsis among U.S. patients hospitalized with 31 pathogens commonly transmitted through food or with unspecified AGI.
METHODS: Using data from the National Inpatient Sample from 2012-2015, we identified sepsis hospitalizations using two approaches- explicit ICD-9-CM codes for sepsis and a coding scheme developed by Angus that identifies sepsis using specific ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes indicating an infection plus organ failure. We examined differences in the frequency and the per-case cost of sepsis across pathogens and AGI and estimated total hospitalization costs using prior estimates of foodborne hospitalizations.
RESULTS: Using Explicit Sepsis Codes, sepsis hospitalizations accounted for 4.6% of hospitalizations with a pathogen commonly transmitted through food or unspecified AGI listed as a diagnosis; this was 33.2% using Angus Sepsis Codes. The average per-case cost was $35,891 and $20,018, respectively. Applying the proportions of hospitalizations with sepsis from this study to prior estimates of the number foodborne hospitalizations, the total annual cost was $248 million annually using Explicit Sepsis Codes and $889 million using Angus Sepsis Codes.
CONCLUSION: Sepsis is a serious complication among patients hospitalized with a foodborne pathogen infection or AGI resulting in a large burden of illness. Hospitalizations that are diagnosed using explicit sepsis codes are more severe and costly, but likely underestimate the burden of foodborne sepsis.