Limitations of medical treatment among patients attended by the rapid response team

G J├Ąderling, M Bell, C-R Martling, A Ekbom, D Konrad
Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica 2013, 57 (10): 1268-74

BACKGROUND: Rapid response teams (RRTs) are called to deteriorating ward patients in order to improve their outcome. The involvement of the team also in end-of-life care issues needs to be addressed. Our objective was to evaluate the RRT with focus on limitations of medical treatment (LOMT).

METHODS: Observational cohort study of RRT calls from 2005 to 2010 at a university hospital.

RESULTS: There were 2189 calls in 1818 admissions. Six hundred forty-two patients (35.3%) were assigned LOMT, and in 296 cases (46.1%) it was documented on the same day as the first RRT call. In total, 152 calls were for patients where a decision was already in place. Among patients with multiple calls, 44.6% received limitations. Hospital mortality was 25.6% in total, 60.6% for patients with limitations and 6.6% for patients without. Mortality at 180 days was 43.2% for the whole cohort, and 83.6% and 21.2% with and without limitations, respectively. Cardiac arrest rate has remained at the level of 0.82/1000 admissions since the introduction of the RRT.

CONCLUSION: Patients attended by the RRT have high short- and long-term mortality. Distinction of when deteriorations may be amenable to treatment or when focus should be laid on palliative care is not always made in the wards. Many decisions of limitations are taken in close conjunction to the call, although limitations do not preclude repeated visits from the team, indicating a need to support wards that care for patients at end of life.

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