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JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

The rapid response system and end-of-life care

Daryl Jones, Juli Moran, Bradford Winters, John Welch
Current Opinion in Critical Care 2013, 19 (6): 616-23
23799463

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To review the recent observational studies reporting the role of the rapid response team (RRT) in end-of-life care (EOLC) planning for hospitalized patients.

RECENT FINDINGS: Initial RRT studies focussed on its role in detecting and preventing avoidable morbidity. However, patients who are in the process of dying will also trigger RRT activation criteria. Single-centre studies from several countries reveal that up to 25% of RRT calls involve patients with a pre-existing limitation of medical therapy (LOMT) and 10% result in new implementation of a new LOMT. A recent seven hospital study revealed that such EOLC RRT calls occur in significantly older patients, who are less likely to be from home and more likely to be admitted with a nonsurgical condition. Importantly, almost 50% of patients subject to EOLC RRT call die in hospital, and in many cases the last RRT call occurs on the day of death.

SUMMARY: Up to one-third of RRT calls involve patients at the end of their life. Better understanding of the features of these patients may guide improved advance care and EOLC planning for hospitalized patients.

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