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Br J Nurs. 2008 Jul 10-23;17(13):860-4.

RSVP: a system for communication of deterioration in hospital patients.

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  • 1Medical Assessment Unit, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and University of Portsmouth.


Communication failures are a prime cause of patient safety incidents. In a medical emergency, patient survival often depends on ward staff making an early and effective call for help. To improve communication with senior colleagues, ward staff need to create a picture that efficiently and reliably conveys their concerns so that they get the help that they need without delay. This can best be achieved though a structured call for help. The Reason-Story-Vital Signs-Plan system, used in the Acute Life-threatening Events--Recognition and Treatment (ALERT) course, is easy to remember in an emergency and includes the essential information enabling an experienced clinician to respond appropriate to a call for help from ward staff. The use of such a structured call for help could improve patient safety.

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