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Medical News & Perspectives
August 19, 2009

Data-Based Risk Calculators Becoming More Sophisticated—and More Popular

JAMA. 2009;302(7):730-731. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1142

Surgeons will soon be able to use a powerful data-driven risk calculator to assess a patient's chances of developing specific complications from colorectal surgical procedures. The calculator tool, now in its prototype stage, enables physicians to use collected clinical data both to predict morbidity and mortality and to help patients better understand the risks and benefits of a procedure.

“Previously, risk assessment was educated guesswork; we would say, ‘You have diabetes and had 2 heart attacks and you need oxygen, so your risk is X%,’” said Karl Y. Bilimoria, MD, a research fellow with the American College of Surgeons (ACS), who helped create the risk calculator. “Now the surgeon can enter preoperative risk variables about the patient and then receive a customized report that outlines the risk of overall mortality and specific morbidities, like site infection.”