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Am J Nurs. 2010 Jun;110(6):28-34; quiz 35-6. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000377686.64479.84.

Rapid response teams seen through the eyes of the nurse.

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Emory Healthcare, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



This article reports on the findings of an evaluation project that explored the impact of rapid response teams from the perspective of the nurses who use them-to give voice to the experience of nurses.


Interviews with 56 staff nurses were analyzed, using thematic analysis, to describe the impact of rapid response teams on staff nurses' practice; the nurses' perspectives on what constitutes a successful rapid response team; their experiences before, during, and after activating a rapid response team; and the challenges they encountered when rapid response teams were used.


Nurses described rapid response teams as quickly bringing needed resources to patients and, when necessary, facilitating patients' transfer to ICUs. They especially appreciated the ability to gather these resources with a single phone call. Nurses also expressed profound relief that rapid response teams were available to expedite patient care; this was so important that some stated they wouldn't work in a facility that didn't have a rapid response team. Successful rapid response systems were described as those in which nurses activated the team without hesitation when they felt it was needed. Challenges to successful use of rapid response teams included mixed messages from leadership about when to activate the team and the need for nurses who were themselves on a rapid response team to leave their patients in order to respond to an activation.


Despite some limitations, this evaluation provides much-needed insight into the effects of rapid response teams on nurses' work environment. Further research is needed to explicate how having a successful rapid response team influences nurse recruitment and retention, as well as how such teams affect patient outcomes.

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