Cirrhosis as a risk factor for sepsis and death: analysis of the National Hospital Discharge Survey

Chest. 2003 Sep;124(3):1016-20. doi: 10.1378/chest.124.3.1016.


Study objectives: The unfavorable influence of cirrhosis on survival in the critically ill has been supported by several single-center reports. Variations in case mix, the technological capabilities of individual facilities, and differences in organizational staffing and structure could limit the extrapolation and generalization of these data to other institutions. To assess the impact of a diagnosis of cirrhosis on outcomes of sepsis, sepsis-related mortality, and respiratory failure in hospitalized patients, we analyzed data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) from 1995 to 1999 to determine its national consequence.

Design: Secondary analysis of an existing national database.

Patients or participants: Based on NHDS estimates, 175 million hospital discharges occurred during the 5-year period of study. One percent (1.7 million) of these hospitalizations involved a diagnosis of cirrhosis.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and results: After adjustments for age, race, and gender, cirrhotic individuals are significantly more likely to die while hospitalized (adjusted risk ratio [RR], 2.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3 to 3.1), to have hospitalizations associated with sepsis (adjusted RR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.9 to 3.3), and to die from sepsis (adjusted RR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.3 to 2.6). Additionally, cirrhosis is associated with an increased RR for acute respiratory failure (adjusted RR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1 to 1.8) and death from acute respiratory failure (adjusted RR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.5 to 3.6).

Conclusions: In this national database of hospital discharge information, a diagnosis of cirrhosis is strongly associated with an increased risk of sepsis, acute respiratory failure, sepsis-related mortality, and acute respiratory failure-related mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / mortality*
  • Risk
  • Shock, Septic / mortality*
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / mortality*
  • United States