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Doctors create new formula to treat trauma patients faster

By Nadine Wimmer | Posted - Jan 19th, 2013 @ 11:21am

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SALT LAKE CITY — It may be hard to believe, but one day your life may just hinge on a mathematical formula. Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center recently created a formula that allows doctors to figure numbers and treat patients faster.

The new formula is called the Intermountain Risk Score. For years, the Intermountain Medical Center has used it to determine which course to take with their heart patients. But now, they're turning their attention to trauma patients. Researchers say they've found some patients are up to 58 times more likely to die than others, regardless of how serious their injury is.

"They get many people coming in a trauma and someone will have a similar injury, but they'll have different outcomes because of the underlying health status," said Director of Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Dr. Benjamin Horne.

Many times, trauma doctors don't know anything about their patients - just what the family tells them. Typically determining a health status can take several critical hours. That is the main reason that specialists created the Intermountain Risk Score. The formula uses information taken from a blood sample, such as a complete blood count and a patient's basic metabolic profile.

"The results from the laboratory tests can be plugged into that equation and it produces the risk number," Horne said.

That risk number tells doctors the likelihood that a traumatic injury will prove fatal, and they will have that information in less than a hour as apposed to several hours.

"It helps the physician to understand where the patient is at an earlier time point, so they say, 'Should we be treating this patient more aggressively, or is this someone likely to have a good outcome?'" Horne said.


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