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Late mortality after sepsis

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 17 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2735

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  1. Stephen J Brett, consultant in intensive care medicine
  1. Centre for Perioperative Medicine and Critical Care Research, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0HS, UK
  1. Correspondence to: stephen.brett{at}

Downstream effects of sepsis include unexplained late deaths

A new series of definitions of sepsis1 along with simple guidance for early diagnosis has recently been published, and a NICE guideline is due shortly.2 Sepsis is an extreme manifestation of the body responding to a severe infection—in part adaptive and protective, but potentially maladaptive and life threatening. Naturally, perhaps, the focus has been on early diagnosis and management. This is not always performed well, as highlighted by a 2015 report from the UK National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death.3 In a linked paper, Prescott and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.i2375) report that patients who survive an episode of sepsis have a significant excess risk of mortality for a prolonged period of time.4 In the past, staff working in intensive care units discharged patients to the rest of the hospital with a feeling of a job well done; somehow that part of the patient’s journey had come to an end and recovery was about to begin. Since then numerous publications have challenged …

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