So are you part of your hospital system’s rapid response or code team? I found a great article over at LiveScience.com that looks at rapid response teams and their effectiveness at improving mortality rates for acute conditions like myocardial infarction and stroke. As they say, detecting and treating patients before they go in to cardiac arrest is the key to improving patient outcomes.

Nurses Empowered To Save Patients’ Lives

rapid response teamRapid response programs out there are changing the way we typically respond to changes in patient condition. You know the normal routine. You see a change in the patient, you page the doctor to ask for a different med or change in orders. A junior resident comes by first to check the patient out and maybe they see the same thing you did or maybe not.

With a rapid response team system in place, nurses at the bedside are empowered to initiate code status immediately when a serious problem presents itself. This allows the patient to be immediately assessed and managed by a team specializing in taking care of critical patients and bypasses the normal system of calls, pages, and waiting during critical minutes for orders.

Australia Leading Way With Nursing Research

This article is based on research published in the Medical Journal of Australia. Their system of rapid response teams has reduced cardiac arrest deaths by 50% which saves about 12,000 lives a year in that country. It’s interesting the linked article that they are also adapting a similar system to identify patients at the end of their life so that teams respond appropriately, compassionately and in a way that is in accordance with the patient’s and family’s wishes.

I think this is great because we don’t do a good job of letting people know real prognoses in situations where people are nearing the end of their life. Giving them honest assessments rather than continuing hopeless, last-ditch efforts can help a family and patient plan for their death and get their affairs in order. Waiting until literally the last minute of life to break it to family members is just bad for everyone.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Nurse Care Coordination and Transition Management and Episode 311.

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