When should nursing staff call a rapid response team? by Pat Iyer

a rapid response team could save your life

a rapid response team could save your life

Rapid response teams are saving lives in hospitals. A key factor in their success is a nursing staff who know when to request their help. 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. An attorney investigating a claim involving a delay in treating a life threatening crisis should look into the the events that led up to the complication or situation. Med League provides expert witnesses with expertise in evaluating such cases. Call us for assistance.

Patricia Iyer MSN RN LNCC is president of Med League.

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4 Responses to When should nursing staff call a rapid response team? by Pat Iyer

  1. Laura Sousa says:

    Thank you for this information on RRT. Our facility implemented a RRT approximately 3 years ago and have seen a steady decline in non-ICU codes. It took approximately 1 year for the staff to feel comfortable calling an RRT when they were not getting the response they felt they needed from either a resident or the primary care provider. It has truly empowered the nursing staff. Any retribution on the part of a provider toward the nursing staff for calling an RRT has been minimal and quickly squashed. The physician management has truly taken the side of patient safety over egos on this one. It is wonderful to see.

  2. Pat Iyer says:

    I am very glad to see that lives are being saved in your facility. Rapid response teams address one of the most common risks- failure to rescue.

  3. Pam says:

    I turned blue gray in the hospital and woke up to the rapid response team, as well as nurses, standing around my bed. How long do you think I could have been unresponsive?

  4. Pat Iyer says:

    It is hard to say, Pam. Glad to have you with us.

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