MONDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A new Internet-based tool can more accurately predict stroke patients' risk of dying in the hospital and help their doctors develop better care plans, according to a new Canadian study.
Hospitals also can use the prediction tool to evaluate and improve their patient outcomes, said study author Dr. Eric Smith, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.
The tool -- called the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke (GWTG) prediction tool -- is based on a large nationwide sample of stroke patients. Doctors upload patient information upon hospital admission, and a computer calculation predicts the risk of death, based on such factors as age, sex, and the presence of other illnesses.
"Hospitals can use our mortality risk score to calculate the mortality rate that they would expect to see, based on the characteristics of their own patients, and compare that to their actual observed mortality," Smith said. "This could help improve quality of care."
The study, published in the Oct. 12 issue of Circulation, looked at medical records and demographics of nearly 275,000 stroke patients from 2001 to 2007 and developed a mortality prediction scale based on their outcomes. The data came from hospitals participating in the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines program.
For stroke patients, the strongest predictor for dying is severity of stroke as measured by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score, a separate instrument used by doctors to determine the patient's prognosis. These scores were only available for about 40 percent of the study population upon admission, but when combined with the other measures, the prediction became even more accurate.
However, Smith said the mathematical calculations made in the study show that the GWTG-Stroke prediction tool
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