Patient safety

Why we measure it - Overwhelmingly, survival is the first and most important statistic parents and others ask about. Using the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status score, we measure survival by patient complexity from the time anesthesia starts to when it stops, and at 48 hours after a procedure or anesthesia. 

Patient safety 2009 2010 2011 2012
Number of ASA 1 and 2 cases
ASA 1 = Healthy, ASA 2 = Mild Systemic Disease
 16,934  17,062


% Survival at 48 Hours for ASA 1 and 2
100% 100% 100% 100%
Number of ASA 3 cases
ASA 3 = Severe Systemic




% Survival at 48 hours for ASA 3 99.97%


Number of ASA 4 and 5 cases
ASA 4 = Severe Systemic Life Threat, ASA 5 = Moribund
1,243 1,175


% survival at 48 hours for ASA 4 and 5 98.63% 98.47% 98.49% 98.74%
Total % survival at 48 hours 99.92%
99.90% 99.93% 99.9%

What this means
- The higher the ASA physical status score, the less the patient is able to tolerate stress, including illness or surgery, and the more complex the case for the operating room team. We have a 100 percent survival rate for otherwise healthy patients (ASA 1 and 2) for the time period reviewed. It is expected that as the severity of the anesthesia case increases we would see a decline in survival. The perioperative mortality rate for pediatric anesthesia in highly developed countries should be less than 20/10,000. The rate is considerably better - about half as high - at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. While all procedures and anesthesia have some risk, we continuously evaluate our professional performance, equipment and systems to ensure safety.

About the data - These data reflect the number of cases with anesthesiology care, not the total number of procedures. One patient may have several procedures during one anesthesia case. The survival is calculated at 48 hours post surgery for the different categories.

Related dimensions of care:

imgSafe  imgEffective

How we provide the best care

  • We have 35 board-certified anesthesiologists with subspecialty training in pediatric anesthesiology.
  • Pediatric anesthesiologists assess all patients before surgery using a scoring system called the American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status score. This comprehensive risk assessment system helps predict the risk of complications and helps us match patients with the right resources. Patients who have a higher risk are more likely to require more complex and time-consuming resources such as postoperative hospitalization, treatment in the intensive care unit and prolonged monitoring.
  • Same-day surgery patients who are otherwise health usually receive care at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Surgicenter with added comfort and convenience. Highly complex patients are cared for at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee campus where more resources are immediately available.
  • Our expert teams are on call 24 hours a day to provide services for general anesthesia, cardiac anesthesia, critical care, pain management and trauma/code response team. We typically have four or five anesthesiologists on call each night to care for urgent and emergency cases.
  • We are recognized nationally for developing new monitoring techniques for patients before, during and after surgery and we continue to set standards around the world for noninvasive hemodynamic monitoring, which ensures the body is receiving enough oxygen and nutrients through the blood.
  • Team members use the latest equipment and therapies and have access to a variety of subspecialty teams such as pain management, critical care, orthopedics, neurosurgical, cardiac and complex airway management. 

Level I trauma center

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, certified by the American College of Surgeons. This certification means we are able to provide the best possible care to the most critically injured children. It also recognizes that we are involved in injury prevention, research and education.