Open Access Open Badges Research article

Long-term survival and healthcare utilization outcomes attributable to sepsis and pneumonia

Andrew Dick1, Hangsheng Liu1, Jack Zwanziger2, Eli Perencevich3, E Yoko Furuya4, Elaine Larson5, Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz6 and Patricia W Stone6*

Author Affiliations

1 RAND Corporation, 20 Park Plaza. Suite 920, Boston, MA, 02116, USA

2 University of Illinois, Chicago, 1603 W. Taylor Street, Chicago, IL, 60612, USA

3 University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine and Iowa City VA Health Care System, 601 Hwy 6 W 3E21, Iowa City, IA, 52246, USA

4 Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, 630. W. 168th Street, New York, NY, 10032, USA

5 Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, School of Nursing, Center for Health Policy, 617 W. 168th Street, New York, NY, 10032, USA

6 Columbia University, School of Nursing, Center for Health Policy 617 W. 168th Street, New York, NY, 10032, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:432  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-432

Published: 26 November 2012



Hospital associated infections are major problems, which are increasing in incidence and very costly. However, most research has focused only on measuring consequences associated with the initial hospitalization. We explored the long-term consequences of infections in elderly Medicare patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) and discharged alive, focusing on: sepsis, pneumonia, central-line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP); the relationships between the infections and long-term survival and resource utilization; and how resource utilization was related to impending death during the follow up period.


Clinical data and one year pre- and five years post-index hospitalization Medicare records were examined. Hazard ratios (HR) and healthcare utilization incidence ratios (IR) were estimated from state of the art econometric models. Patient demographics (i.e., age, gender, race and health status) and Medicaid status (i.e., dual eligibility) were controlled for in these models.


In 17,537 patients, there were 1,062 sepsis, 1,802 pneumonia, 42 CLABSI and 52 VAP cases. These subjects accounted for 62,554 person-years post discharge. The sepsis and CLABSI cohorts were similar as were the pneumonia and VAP cohorts. Infection was associated with increased mortality (sepsis HR = 1.39, P < 0.01; and pneumonia HR = 1.58, P < 0.01) and the risk persisted throughout the follow-up period. Persons with sepsis and pneumonia experienced higher utilization than controls (e.g., IR for long-term care utilization for those with sepsis ranged from 2.67 to 1.93 in years 1 through 5); and, utilization was partially related to impending death.


The infections had significant and lasting adverse consequences among the elderly. Yet, many of these infections may be preventable. Investments in infection prevention interventions are needed in both community and hospitals settings.

Community-associated infections; Sepsis; Pneumonia; Survival; Healthcare utilization