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BMJ. 2007 December 1; 335(7630): 1118.
PMCID: PMC2099517
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Rapid response team reduces mortality in large academic children's hospital

On 1 September 2005, a large academic children's hospital in the US introduced a rapid response team to see and treat children thought to be deteriorating on the general wards. The team aimed to reach them within five minutes. In the 19 months that followed, the hospital wide mortality rate fell by 18% (95% CI 5% to 30%; from 1.01 to 0.83 deaths/100 discharges), the average monthly rate of respiratory or cardiopulmonary arrest outside the intensive care unit fell by 71.7% (2.45 to 0.69 arrests per 1000 admissions), and an estimated 33 lives were saved.

These data may be observational but they provide the most persuasive evidence so far that rapid response teams can work for children as well as adults, says an editorial (p 2311). Any member of staff worried about a child could call the team, which included a doctor, a specialist nurse, a respiratory therapist, and a nurse supervisor. Other possible triggers included suddenly worsening blood pressure, oxygen saturation, or level of consciousness.

It's impossible to say for certain whether rapid response teams were solely responsible for the improvements seen. But case mix was the same before and after the new teams started, and the study's authors think a direct effect is the likeliest explanation.


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