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Simple Blood Test to Identify Trauma Patient’s Death Risk

Update Date: Jan 18, 2013 05:39 AM EST

Clinicians will be able to find out which trauma patient has a greater risk of dying by performing a routine blood test. The study was conducted recently by the team of Sara Majercik, M.D., an Intermountain Medical Center surgeon and trauma researcher, and her colleague Benjamin Horne, PhD, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

Dr. Majercik with her team found that a tool known as the Intermountain Risk Score can predict the death risk of trauma patients individually. In their research, Dr. Majercik and Dr. Horne studied the data of 9,538 trauma patients spanning about six years.

With the help of the tool, they divided the trauma patients into different groups based on their risk levels of low, medium and high. It was found that the death rate of men with high-risk levels was 58 times more than those with a low risk, and that of moderate risk level men was 13 times more than men with low risk level.

On the other hand, women with a high risk level had 19 times more fatal than low risk, and moderate risk women had five times more fatality chances than low risk women. The risk of death was predicted in both cases to be within one year.

The Intermountain Risk Score is a program which enables doctors to predict the death risk of the patient based on his/her age, gender, basic metabolic profile (BMP) and a complete blood count (CBC), a blood test which is a routine one. These components, when combined in the computer program, assist to find the death risks in patients with heart failure or chronic pulmonary disease. This method has not yet been tested on the traumas resulting from accidents.

"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. 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 cell distribution width (RDW) that we pay no attention to at all in the acute setting. These factors are generally overlooked, even though they are part of the CBC that every trauma patient gets when he or she arrives in the emergency room," Dr. Majercik was quoted as saying in Medical Xpress.

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