Predictive tool helps ID at-risk trauma patients

A computerized physician tool that researchers determined late last year could help in identifying heart attack patients at risk for readmissions now has a new use: determining which hospital trauma patients are at the greatest risk to die.

The tool--dubbed the Intermountain Risk Score and developed by Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Medical Center--is a computerized algorithm that combines factors like age, gender, blood test information, diagnosis history and body-mass index to calculate a score. When applied to more than 9,500 trauma patients, the tool helped researchers led by Sarah Majercik, M.D., to determine that some of those patients are 58 times more likely to die than others, regardless of the severity of their original injuries.

"As surgeons, we don't often use all of the CBC results in evaluating a patient who needs surgery for a bleeding spleen or after a motor vehicle accident," Majercik said in a statement. "There are certain values, such as hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelets that we scrutinize closely as part of good clinical care, but then other parts, such as the red blood cell distribution width that we pay no attention to at all in the acute setting."

Horne said this new evidence could change all of that.

"Based on the findings of our research, [such tests are] something that should be looked at as part of the care plan model," Horne said in a statement.

Majercik presented the findings this week at the 27th annual Scientific Session of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma in Phoenix.

To learn more:
- here's an abstract of the research
- check out the Intermountain announcement


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