A sudden deterioration in a patient’s condition should stimulate activation of emergency efforts. The goal of a rapid response team (RRT) is to avert a cardiac arrest – to take action before the patient stops breathing. Here are some generally accepted reasons to call a team of professionals to the bedside:
Staff worried about patient
Acute change in heart rate
Acute change in systolic blood pressure
Acute change in respiratory rate
Acute drop in O2 saturation
Acute change in mental status
Drop in urine output
New, repeated, or prolonged seizures
Fractional inspired oxygen of 50% or greater
Failure to respond to treatment for an acute problem/symptoms
The composition of RRTs varies from hospital to hospital. A team typically consists of 2-3 people who are assigned to flexible responsibilities within the facility. The team may consist of respiratory therapists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, critical care nurses, intensivist (critical care doctors), hospitalists (physicians employed within a facility to provide inpatient care) or residents. The team’s role is to assess and stabilize the patient, assist with communication with the attending physician, educate and support the nursing staff and family, and assist with transfer to another level of care, if needed.
The rapid response team serves a vital role, but not all hospitals have them. Does yours? Consider this important patient safety feature when you pick a hospital.