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Patient characteristics, interventions and outcomes of 1151 rapid response team activations in a tertiary hospital: a prospective study

K White, I A Scott, A Bernard, K McCulloch, A Vaux, C Joyce, C M Sullivan
Internal Medicine Journal 2016, 46 (12): 1398-1406

BACKGROUND: The characteristics of mature contemporary rapid response systems are unclear.

AIM: To determine the patient characteristics, processes and outcomes, both in-hospital and post-discharge, of a well-established rapid response system in a tertiary adult hospital.

METHODS: This is a prospective study of consecutive rapid response team (RRT) activations between 1 July and 25 November 2015. Variables included patient characteristics, timing, location and triggers of RRT activations, interventions undertaken, mortality and readmission status at 28 days post-discharge.

RESULTS: A total of 1151 RRT activations was analysed (69.1 per 1000 admissions), involving 800 patients, of whom 81.5% were emergency admissions. A total of 351 (30.5%) activations comprised repeat activations for the same patient. Most activations (723; 62.8%) occurred out of hours, and 495 (43%) occurred within 48 h of admission. Hypotension, decreased level of consciousness and oxygen desaturation were the most common triggers. Advanced life support was undertaken in less than 7%; 198 (17.2%) responses led to transfer to higher-level care units. Acute resuscitation plans were noted for only 29.1% of RRT activations, with 80.3% stipulating supportive care only. A total of 103 (12.6%) patients died in hospital, equalling 14 deaths per 100 RRT activations. At 28 days, 150 (18.8%) patients had died, significantly more among those with multiple versus single RRT activations (24.9 vs 16.6%; odds ratio 1.66, 95% confidence interval 1.31-2.44; P = 0.013).

CONCLUSION: Relatively few RRT activations are associated with acute resuscitation plans, and most interventions during RRT responses are low level. The high rate of post-RRT deaths and transfers to higher-level care units calls for the prospective identification of such patients in targeting appropriate care.


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