Clinical Subtypes of Sepsis Survivors Predict Readmission and Mortality after Hospital Discharge

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2022 Aug;19(8):1355-1363. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.202109-1088OC.


Rationale: Sepsis survivors experience adverse outcomes including high rates of postdischarge mortality and rehospitalization. Given the heterogeneity of the condition, using a person-centered framework to identify subtypes within this population with different risks of postdischarge outcomes may optimize postsepsis care. Objectives: To classify individuals into subtypes and assess the association of subtypes with 30-day rehospitalization and mortality. Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study between January 2014 and October 2017 among 20,745 patients admitted to one of 12 southeastern U.S. hospitals with a clinical definition of sepsis. We used latent class analysis to classify sepsis survivors into subtypes, which were evaluated against 30-day readmission and mortality rates using a specialized regression approach. A secondary analysis evaluated subtypes against readmission rate for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions. Results: Among 20,745 patients, latent class analysis identified five distinct subtypes as the optimal solution. Clinical subtype was associated with 30-day readmission, with the subtype existing poor health with severe illness and complex needs after discharge demonstrating highest risk (35%) and the subtype low risk, barriers to care demonstrating the lowest risk (9%). Forty-seven percent of readmissions in the subtype poor functional status were for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions, whereas 17% of readmissions in the subtype previously healthy with severe illness and complex needs after discharge, barriers to care were for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions. Subtype was significantly associated with 30-day mortality: highest in for existing poor health with severe illness and complex needs after discharge (8%) and lowest for low risk, barriers to care (0.1%). Conclusions: Sepsis survivors can be classified into subtypes representing nuanced constellations of characteristics, with differential 30-day mortality and readmission risk profiles. Predischarge classification may allow an individualized approach to postsepsis care.

Keywords: hospital readmission; mortality; phenotype; sepsis; survivor.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Readmission
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis*
  • Survivors