Deaths in the pediatric Intensive Care Unit

Quality and Outcomes Reports - Critical Care

Why we measure it - Deaths are an unfortunate reality in every Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Death rates are talked about as mortality rates. It is important to compare these rates by taking into account how sick patients are. This is done using the standardized mortality ratio. This is one of several national quality measures for pediatric critical care endorsed by the National Quality Forum.

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What this means - The standardized mortality ratio shows the number of deaths in a critical care unit relative to the degree of illness of the patients. A ratio greater than 1 says that there are more deaths than expected based on their degree of illness. A ratio less than 1 says that there are fewer deaths than expected.

About the data - A standardized mortality ratio is a tool for comparing mortality rates, adjusted for the severity of illness of the patients. The calculation of standardized mortality ratio uses a validated tool (PIM 2) to predict mortality for a group of patients. This prediction is then compared to the actual number of deaths. The data show the standardized mortality rate for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin PICU as compared with other children's hospitals around the country that are part of the VPS database reference group.

Related dimensions of care:


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How we provide the best care

  • We have taken a number of steps to reduce mortality. One step is reducing blood stream infections caused by central lines.
  • Multidisciplinary care rounds with families improve our communication among team members and families. These rounds include doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dietitians who are involved in a child's daily care.
  • We use technologies that help reduce medication errors. Computer order entry, bar coding for giving medicines and "smart" infusion pumps help improve our patients' safety and quality of care.
  • We have a highly specialized Children's Transport Team available 24 hours a day to bring seriously ill and injured infants and children to our center. The team transports more than 1,500 children each year.
  • A variety of services are available through the Children's Hospital Bereavement Program to help families cope with the death of a child.

Level I regional referral center

The Al McGuire Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is a Level I regional referral center that provides the highest level of pediatric critical care. It is one of the few PICUs in the region offering extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a type of heart-lung bypass.

Family accommodations

Families traveling from long distances are encouraged to use our Family Accommodations Program to make travel arrangements and schedule appointments. Children's Hospital has partnered with non-profit organizations like Ronald McDonald House to offer comfortable, "home away from home" accommodations. Local hotel chains on our referral list also offer discounts for families.