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Intern Med J. 2019 Aug 6. doi: 10.1111/imj.14444. [Epub ahead of print]

Optimizing the response to acute clinical deterioration: the role of Observation and Response Charts.

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General and Acute Medicine, Royal Adelaide Hospital and University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.
Intensive Care Unit, Royal Adelaide Hospital and University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.


We sought the role of the hospital inpatient observation and response chart (ORC) in reducing adverse outcomes. We sourced articles written in English and published in PubMed. Track, trigger and response systems can be tiered and use single parameter or aggregate scoring systems; the latter being more prone to error. The documentation and detection of abnormal vital signs can be affected by choice of trigger and response and by ORC design. There is considerable variation in the design of ORCs and of rapid response systems (RRSs) in general and this impairs assessment of their efficacy. A high rate of modification of pre-determined triggers and poor sensitivity of measured outcomes further compromise systematic review. The best-designed ORCs and RRSs should optimise the frequency of response team activation to minimise adverse patient outcomes without excess resource utilisation. The role and the risks of electronic data recording are under-explored. Detecting and responding to deteriorating patients relies upon accurate and clear documentation of vital signs. ORC design and staff education on ORC implementation and usage are integral to minimising ALF and optimising patient outcomes. Standardisation of the design of both the ORC and the hospital RRS are overdue. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


Deteriorating patient; observation and response charts; rapid response system; rapid response team


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