A new computer program called Cornelius calculates two risk scores for each newly arrived Vanderbilt University Hospital patient ― one estimating the patient’s risk of developing pressure ulcers during the current hospital stay, and the other estimating the patient’s risk of returning to VUH for readmission within 30 days of discharge, the university's news service reports.

Cornelius’s risk models use a handful of clinical and demographic factors that are typically documented in the electronic medical record within 24 hours of hospital admission, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Reporter notes.

The models rest on a statistical analysis of some 30,000 VUH patient records in which researchers tested more than 400 clinical and demographic variables for correlation with pressure ulcers and readmission.

"In a randomized controlled trial of Cornelius’s usefulness, for half of all VUH patients the two risk scores are completely suppressed, hidden from the care team and from researchers," the VUMC story says. "For the other half of patients the scores are taken into account by the care team as they try to discern which patients may benefit from which preventive measures. All arriving VUH patients are randomly assigned to one of the two groups. (Of course, both groups are subject to the same standard of care.) The study began in 2012 and is expected to continue at least another year."

“With the research component of Cornelius, we would like to show the country, if we can, how you can carry translational science all the way into the clinical space in a seamless, efficient way,” Gordon Bernard, M.D., the medical center's associate vice chancellor for clinical and translational research, said, adding that this is very likely the first study anywhere of the effect of system-wide readmission risk stratification.

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