Rapid response teams are used to improve the recognition of acute deteriorations in medical and surgical settings. They are activated by abnormal physiological parameters, symptoms or clinical concern, and are believed to decrease hospital mortality rates. We evaluated the reasons for activation and the outcome of rapid response interventions in a 222-bed psychiatric hospital in New York City using data obtained at the time of all activations from January through November, 2012. The primary outcome was the admission rate to a medical or surgical unit for each of the main reasons for activation. The 169 activations were initiated by nursing staff (78.7 %) and psychiatrists (13 %) for acute changes in condition (64.5 %), abnormal physiological parameters (27.2 %) and non-specified concern (8.3 %). The most common reasons for activation were chest pain (14.2 %), fluctuating level of consciousness (9.5 %), hypertension (9.5 %), syncope or fall (8.9 %), hypotension (8.3 %), dyspnea (7.7 %) and seizures (5.9 %). The rapid response team transferred 127 (75.2 %) patients to the Emergency Department and 46 (27.2 %) were admitted to a medical or surgical unit. The admission rates were statistically similar for acute changes in condition, abnormal physiological parameters, and clinicians’ concern. In conclusion, a majority of rapid response activations in a self-standing psychiatric hospital were initiated by nursing staff for changes in condition, rather than for policy-specified abnormal physiological parameters. The findings suggest that a rapid response system may empower psychiatric nurses to use their clinical skills to identify patients requiring urgent transfer to a general hospital.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 22, 2015
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