Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Infection by bacteria
Systemic inflammatory response syndrome
Septic shock

Sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection or injury. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and treatment for survival.  Sepsis and septic shock can result from an infection anywhere in the body, such as pneumonia, influenza, and urinary tract infections. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who do survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction (organs don’t work properly) and/or amputations. Sepsis as a top cause of death in hospitals and one of the primary causes of serious harm due to misdiagnosis. A significant hurdle when studying sepsis is the fact that many doctors overlook it as a contributing cause of death and don't list it on the death certificate.


The most comprehensive global analysis (A Global Accounting of Sepsis, The Lancet, 2020) done to that that date warns that sepsis is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide each year. The updated figures are double that of previous estimates. The research, however, suggests the rate of sepsis has actually declined by about half since 1990.  It is estimated that about 11 million people worldwide died with sepsis in 2017 alone — out of 56 million total deaths (about 20% of all deaths).  An estimated 85% of these sepsis-related deaths occur in low- to middle-income countries.

In the U.S. (2014), 1.7 million adults developed sepsis each year and nearly 270,000 died as a result.  The death rate of in-hospital patients with sepsis is 10% compared to 1% among patients without sepsis.  Between 34.7% and 55.9% of American patients who died in hospitals between 2010 and 2012 had sepsis at the time of their death.  Spending for sepsis rose by 19% from 2011 to 2013.  It is now the most expensive condition treated in the U.S., costing $23.6 billion annually.

Over 2 million people receiving treatment in European hospitals die from sepsis acquired in that hospital (2018).

As an indication, the market for antiseptics (and antiseptic disinfectants) in the UK in 1986 was £33.3 million.

Medicine Blood
Medicine Pathology
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
16.10.2021 – 10:30 CEST