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Crit Care. 2009;13(5):313. doi: 10.1186/cc7996. Epub 2009 Oct 6.

Effectiveness of the Medical Emergency Team: the importance of dose.

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Department of Intensive Care, Austin Hospital, Studley Road, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia.


Up to 17% of hospital admissions are complicated by serious adverse events unrelated to the patients presenting medical condition. Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) review patients during early phase of deterioration to reduce patient morbidity and mortality. However, reports of the efficacy of these teams are varied. The aims of this article were to explore the concept of RRT dose, to assess whether RRT dose improves patient outcomes, and to assess whether there is evidence that inclusion of a physician in the team impacts on the effectiveness of the team. A review of available literature suggested that the method of reporting RRT utilization rate, (RRT dose) is calls per 1,000 admissions. Hospitals with mature RRTs that report improved patient outcome following RRT introduction have a RRT dose between 25.8 and 56.4 calls per 1,000 admissions. Four studies report an association between increasing RRT dose and reduced in-hospital cardiac arrest rates. Another reported that increasing RRT dose reduced in-hospital mortality for surgical but not medical patients. The MERIT study investigators reported a negative relationship between MET-like activity and the incidence of serious adverse events. Fourteen studies reported improved patient outcome in association with the introduction of a RRT, and 13/14 involved a Physician-led MET. These findings suggest that if the RRT is the major method for reviewing serious adverse events, the dose of RRT activation must be sufficient for the frequency and severity of the problem it is intended to treat. If the RRT dose is too low then it is unlikely to improve patient outcomes. Increasing RRT dose appears to be associated with reduction in cardiac arrests. The majority of studies reporting improved patient outcome in association with the introduction of an RRT involve a MET, suggesting that inclusion of a physician in the team is an important determinant of its effectiveness.

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