Westwood — Mortality rates at the Kansas University Hospital trauma and burn units are among the lowest in the country, according to figures released this week.
The Burnett Burn Center's mortality index is 0.58, indicating that 42 percent of patients who arrived with a great risk of death are surviving.
The KU Trauma Center, meanwhile, has a mortality index of 0.72. "That means that if we treated 100 patients who would likely die, 28 out of those 100 would live who might not do so in another center," explained its director, Michael Moncure.
"You've got a better chance of surviving at KU than you do at other institutions across the country," he added.
Moncure and Richard Kortentager, medical director of the Burnett Burn Center, reported the improved patient outcomes to the KU Hospital Authority Board at its bimonthly meeting Tuesday, noting that the programs are the only ones of their kind in the Kansas City region with national accreditation. They are assessed by the American College of Surgeons, with Burnett additionally being evaluated by the American Burn Association.
The units have to meet strict guidelines to earn the designations. Only 107 out of the 1,395 trauma centers nationwide are nationally accredited.
"We're put to a very stringent set of criteria," Kortentager said. He added that the marks also come with increased expectations.
The trauma program treats patients involved in such incidents as traffic accidents, violent crimes or mass-casualty emergencies, while the burn unit takes care of people burned by fire, electricity, chemicals or extreme cold. They see residents mostly of Kansas and Missouri but also some surrounding states.
The facilities have undergone improvements in other areas. Since 2010, the KU Trauma Center has cut in half its first-24-hour death rate from shock. Bed days and length of stays in intensive care are also down in that time.
Officials credited the improvements to teamwork between the trauma, burn and critical care units, and a mission of providing advanced, immediate care 24/7. Moncure cited the recent gas explosion at JJ's Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., in which hospital employees brought a victim directly from the emergency bay to a trauma room and began treating him right away.
"If we wouldn't have pushed that, he would have died," Moncure asserted. "When you do the right thing, and do it aggressively and do it up front, you see the results on the downstream."