Risk of sepsis higher for those recently discharged from a hospital: study

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Routine hospital stays may disrupt the balance of microbes in the bodies of some older adults enough to increase the risk of sepsis after they've been released, a new study finds.

Research from the University of Michigan shows that older adults are three times more likely to develop sepsis in the first 90 days after leaving a hospital than any other time. The risk of sepsis in that 90-day window is 30% higher if the patient's initial hospital stay involved treatment for any type of infection — 70% higher if they were treated for Clostridium difficile.

The University of Michigan's research focused on the relationship between hospitalization and sepsis due to the understanding that antibiotics and other infection treatments disrupt the body's microbiome, the population of bacteria and other organisms necessary for healthy body function. The study analyzed data from more than 43,000 hospital stays of 11,000 older adults over a 12-year period.

Each year sepsis affects as many as 750,000 hospitalized patients in the U.S, and can lead to damage of vital organs, or even death for one in every six people diagnosed with it. Sepsis is also one of the most expensive causes for hospitalization, costing $24 billion annually.