As the healthcare system continues to grow more sophisticated, it requires the implementation of additional mechanisms that would help healthcare facilities with improving patient outcomes. The introduction of rapid response teams (RRTs) was a vital step toward increasing patient safety and decreasing mortality. This paper analyzes the role and efficiency of RRTs in hospitals and attempts to provide recommendations for future upgrades to the rapid response system.
RRTs were introduced as an answer to a growing concern regarding in-hospital mortality rates. Lyons et al. (2018) state that “a nontrivial number of hospitalized patients” experience a rapid deterioration of health that requires immediate intervention in order to prevent severe consequences (p. 192). The campaign that followed the research in 2004 by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement made the implementation of RRTs mandatory for all hospitals in the United States (Lyons et al., 2018). These teams continue to play a crucial role in patient safety, as they prevent many adverse outcomes.
However, RRTs have also been a target for several concerns from researchers. The evidence from the studies of RRTs is inconclusive and fails to provide a clear effect of RRTs on patient mortality and ICU readmission rates (Jones & Brast, 2017). Moreover, access to RRT activation can lead to missed opportunities for less experienced personnel to learn how to overcome challenges and put a gap in the continuity of care (Jones & Brast, 2017). According to Jones and Brast (2017), “the use of RRTs may even create a greater number of ICU admissions for patients presenting with a borderline illness severity” (p. 350). Despite these issues, RRTs continue to function in hospitals, saving patients’ lives on a daily basis.
RRTs have a high demand for cooperation between both their members and “users,” leading to the necessity for continuous training of teamwork skills. Chalwin et al. (2020) argue that “the clinical and time stressors of RRT calls can threaten the working relationship between users and members” (p. 2). A clear structure for patient hand-off from regular medical personnel to RRT personnel can improve the overall efficiency of the system Chalwin et al., 2020). By training personnel, including RRT and non-RRT members, to conduct vital information about the patient in an efficient manner, hospitals can ensure an increased number of positive outcomes from RRT activations.
The effectiveness of RRTs can also be improved by innovative technology that will help medical personnel with determining the necessity of RRT activation. However, according to Jones and Brast (2017), “technology at this point remains heavily dependent on clinical interpretation” (p. 352). Lyons et al. (2018) state that the events that cause RRT activation are “frequently preceded by abnormal vital signs hours before they occur” (p. 2). The usage of monitoring devices that can react to these changes provides medical personnel with a sufficient amount of time to prepare for or prevent the deterioration of the patient’s health.
In conclusion, the RRTs play a crucial role in hospitals by providing timely assistance to medical personnel who can be otherwise unprepared to deal with health deterioration. While there are certain limitations regarding the research on the efficiency of RRTs, it does provide sufficient assistance for regular medical personnel to remain a mandatory part of a hospital environment. Moreover, the accumulation of medical knowledge leads to the growing potential of RRTs, as new methods of RRT intervention and the new technologies these teams use continue to emerge.
Chalwin, R., Giles, L., Salter, A., Kapitola, K., & Karnon, J. (2020). Re-designing a rapid response system: Effect on staff experiences and perceptions of rapid response team calls. BMC Health Services Research, 20(1). Web.
Jones, D. W., & Brast, S. R. (2017). Rapid response teams and transport of the critically ill patient. In P. G. Morton & D. K. Fontaine (Eds.), Critical care nursing: A holistic approach (11th ed., pp. 348-368). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Lyons, P. G., Edelson, D. P., & Churpek, M. M. (2018). Rapid response systems. Resuscitation, 128, 191–197. Web.