NHHN's first Rapid Response Team

August 31, 2005
WILMINGTON - New Hanover Health Network implemented its first Rapid Response Team (RRT), a team of clinicians who bring critical care experience to the bedside outside of critical units, July 1, 2005.

Because some symptoms of a deteriorating patient can begin up to eight hours before the patient actually codes, the RRT is called at the beginning signs of decline. With this intervention, a full-blown code can be prevented. The goal of this team is to respond to a "spark" before it becomes a "fire."

The RRT assesses and stabilizes the patient, assists with communication, and offers support to the floor nurses. After the team responds, its members debrief with the patient's nurse to discuss what they found and how it was resolved.

During a one-month pilot only in specific areas of the network, the RRT showed to be successful. In one case, a patient needed to be transported from the 9th floor to STICU, but no beds were available. The RRT responded and was able to receive intensive care nursing until a bed in STICU opened up.

Jill Apple, CCU Clinical Coordinator and Chairman of the Resuscitation Committee says the RRT is very happy to be available network wide. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The majorities of patients aided have not had to be moved to critical care units, but were able to stay where they were, reducing the need for transportation.

Hospitals that have implemented this type of early intervention have seen a 50-percent decrease in non-ICU arrests, a 58-percent decrease in post-operative emergency transfers and a 37-percent decrease in post-operative deaths. NHHN's data for each month will be submitted to the Institute of Healthcare Improvement beginning with July's.

The RRT is one of the six objectives outlined in the national "Save 100,000 Lives" campaign. Apple says that NHHN's RRT has been asked for advice by Charlotte Memorial Hospital on how to start its own RRT.