PURPOSE: Sepsis survivors have a higher risk of rehospitalisation and of long-term mortality. We assessed the rate, diagnosis, and independent predictors for rehospitalisation in adult sepsis survivors.

METHODS: We searched for non-randomized studies and randomized clinical trials in MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and EMBASE (OVID interface, 1992-October 2019). The search strategy used controlled vocabulary terms and text words for sepsis and hospital readmission, limited to humans, and English language. Two authors independently selected studies and extracted data using predefined criteria and data extraction forms.

RESULTS: The literature search identified 12,544 records. Among 56 studies (36 full and 20 conference abstracts) that met our inclusion criteria, all were non-randomised studies. Studies most often report 30-day rehospitalisation rate (mean 21.4%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 17.6-25.4%; N = 36 studies reporting 6,729,617 patients). The mean (95%CI) rehospitalisation rates increased from 9.3% (8.3-10.3%) by 7 days to 39.0% (22.0-59.4%) by 365 days. Infection was the most common rehospitalisation diagnosis. Risk factors that increased the rehospitalisation risk in sepsis survivors were generic characteristics such as older age, male, comorbidities, non-elective admissions, hospitalisation prior to index sepsis admission, and sepsis characteristics such as infection and illness severity, with hospital characteristics showing inconsistent associations. The overall certainty of evidence was moderate for rehospitalisation rates and low for risk factors.

CONCLUSIONS: Rehospitalisation events are common in sepsis survivors, with one in five rehospitalisation events occurring within 30 days of hospital discharge following an index sepsis admission. The generic and sepsis-specific characteristics at index sepsis admission are commonly reported risk factors for rehospitalisation.

REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD 42016039257, registered on 14-06-2016.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-636
Number of pages18
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number4
Early online date23 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Competing risk
  • Rehospitalisation
  • Risk factors
  • Sepsis


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