How common is sepsis?

It is difficult to give exact numbers of cases. Over the last few years, numerous scientists worldwide have collected data on patients with sepsis in hospital. However, this often does not include people who were not admitted to hospital or who were not diagnosed at all.

A retrospective survey from Germany based on hospital discharge data showed 81,606 cases of sepsis and 33,815 cases of septic shock in 2013. The hospital mortality rate was 58.8% for septic shock. Approximately 20% of the patients were over 80 years old.

Valid, i.e. reliable, data on the epidemiology of sepsis are not yet available - with a few exceptions. In medical jargon, this is monocentric register data collected by means of prospective (forward-looking) active data collection. First long-term results are available for the University Hospital of Jena, where 1,976 patients treated in intensive care were observed, about half of them with nosocomial sepsis. We speak of nosocomial sepsis when the sepsis was acquired in hospital. The hospital mortality was 44.7%, after six months the mortality increased to 58.5% and after 48 months to 74.2%.

Sepsis cases

Hospital discharge data from 2013

Often, doctors cannot clearly determine whether those affected died directly from the consequences of sepsis or from the consequences of a serious underlying chronic disease such as cancer or cardiovascular disease. It must also be noted that mortality increases significantly with age and that many patients cannot be treated with intensive care or only to a limited extent due to severe previous illnesses, old age or a significantly reduced quality of life.


Fleischmann C et al. (2016) Dtsch Arztebl Int 113:159–166; Thiel P et al. (2011) Infection 39:S138–S139