Blood count derangements after sepsis and association with post-hospital outcomes

Front Immunol. 2023 Feb 28;14:1133351. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1133351. eCollection 2023.


Rationale: Predicting long-term outcomes in sepsis survivors remains a difficult task. Persistent inflammation post-sepsis is associated with increased risk for rehospitalization and death. As surrogate markers of inflammation, complete blood count parameters measured at hospital discharge may have prognostic value for sepsis survivors.

Objective: To determine the incremental value of complete blood count parameters over clinical characteristics for predicting 90-day outcomes in sepsis survivors.

Methods: Electronic health record data was used to identify sepsis hospitalizations at United States Veterans Affairs hospitals with live discharge and relevant laboratory data (2013 to 2018). We measured the association of eight complete blood count parameters with 90-day outcomes (mortality, rehospitalization, cause-specific rehospitalizations) using multivariable logistic regression models.

Measurements and main results: We identified 155,988 eligible hospitalizations for sepsis. Anemia (93.6%, N=142,162) and lymphopenia (28.1%, N=29,365) were the most common blood count abnormalities at discharge. In multivariable models, all parameters were associated with the primary outcome of 90-day mortality or rehospitalization and improved model discrimination above clinical characteristics alone (likelihood ratio test, p<0.02 for all). A model including all eight parameters significantly improved discrimination (AUROC, 0.6929 v. 0.6756) and reduced calibration error for the primary outcome. Hemoglobin had the greatest prognostic separation with a 1.5 fold increased incidence of the primary outcome in the lowest quintile (7.2-8.9 g/dL) versus highest quintile (12.70-15.80 g/dL). Hemoglobin and neutrophil lymphocyte ratio provided the most added value in predicting the primary outcome and 90-day mortality alone, respectively. Absolute lymphocyte count added little value in predicting 90-day outcomes.

Conclusions: The incorporation of discharge complete blood count parameters into prognostic scoring systems could improve prediction of 90-day outcomes. Hemoglobin had the greatest prognostic value for the primary composite outcome of 90-day rehospitalization or mortality. Absolute lymphocyte count provided little added value in multivariable model comparisons, including for infection- or sepsis-related rehospitalization.

Keywords: anemia; complete blood cell (CBC) count; neutrophil lymphocyte ratio (NLR); sepsis; survivor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Lymphocytes*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis*
  • United States / epidemiology