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Rapid Response Team


Parents and staff at Children’s Hospital are working together on a new program that lets everyone involved with a child watch out for their well-being. Called the Rapid Response Team, the program empowers parents, medical care providers and even non-medical care staff to alert a special team of caretakers should a child seem to need help.

Patterned after other Rapid Response Teams across the country, the team of specially trained medical professionals seeks to keep a potentially dangerous situation from deteriorating. The unique part of the program is the ability of anyone who cares for the child, including a parent, to raise an alert.

“This is an important program that acknowledges that many people, not just a doctor or a nurse, can see changes in a child’s condition,” said Dr. Samuel Lehman, Medical Director of Patient Safety at Children’s Hospital. “It allows us to provide just what it states – a rapid response – and assemble a special team to evaluate the child and provide any treatment or intervention that may be needed.”

The process begins when someone lets the child’s bedside nurse know that something doesn’t seem right. By simply pushing a button, the nurse alerts a group of physicians and other medical professionals who are always on call at the hospital. In minutes they are in the child’s room, checking to see what special care is needed.

The Rapid Response Team at Children’s Hospital quickly evaluates and responds to deteriorating changes in a patient’s condition before that child can go into respiratory failure and/or cardiac arrest. This service, launched in October 2007, differs from the Emergency Medical Response Team/Code Team, which springs into action after a child’s heart or lungs stop working.

The Rapid Response Team is a multidisciplinary team comprised of experienced pediatricians, pediatric intensive care nurses and respiratory care professionals as well as the doctors and nurses assigned to the patient. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for patients in the acute care areas of the hospital.

According to statistics compiled by The Joint Commission, rapid response teams have been found to reduce non-ICU cardiac arrests by 50 percent and post-operative deaths by 37 percent. Research shows that most patients who have a cardiac arrest in the hospital will show signs of declining condition as early as eight hours before the arrest.

Nurses at Children’s can activate the Rapid Response Team for any of the following reasons:

  • staff or family is concerned about the patient
  • acute changes in the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation or level of consciousness
  • new, repeated or prolonged seizures
  • acute significant bleeding
  • acute changes in respiratory status or a threatened airway

Parents and families activate the Rapid Response Team through the bedside nurse.

Developing a rapid response team is one of the six recommended interventions of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) 100,000 Lives Campaign and is now a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal for implantation by 2009. The goal of these initiatives is to decrease the number of preventable inpatient deaths. However, the Rapid Response Team is more than an effort to meet a goal.

“Patient safety is about developing systems to prevent injury and death. The Rapid Response Team is the system to take care of a potentially unstable child before they deteriorate. This is about saving children’s lives, not just to comply with rules or laws,” said Dr. Lehman.

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