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Rapid Response Teams Don't Cut Hospital Heart Attacks, Death Rates
Date:12/2/2008

Money may be better spent in other areas, experts say

TUESDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Hospital rapid response teams, created to prevent cardiac arrest and deaths in critically ill patients, do not seem to work, a new study finds.

"Many hospitals have implemented these teams over the past decade," said lead researcher Dr. Paul S. Chan, a cardiologist at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo. "Earlier studies had shown that rapid response teams may decrease code [cardiac arrest] rates for patients in the hospital."

Rapid response teams are usually made up of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists, whose primary role is to care for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). The teams are also called to help evaluate patients who are not in the ICU.

"The goal of these teams was to get called, usually by nurses, to patients who are declining and do a rapid assessment and treatment to try to prevent cardiac arrest and deaths," Chan said.

For the study, Chan's team looked at the association between interventions by rapid response teams and changes in cardiac arrests and deaths in a Kansas City hospital. The researchers compared 24,193 patients hospitalized before the start of team intervention with 24,978 patients hospitalized after a rapid response team was put in place.

Over 20 months later, the team had responded 376 times. The usual reasons the team was called was for changes in a patient's mental state, rapid heartbeat called tachycardia, which can lead to cardiac arrest, rapid breathing or abnormally low blood pressure.

Since many patients evaluated by the rapid response team are transferred to the ICU, Chan's group looked at cardiac arrest and deaths both in and out of the ICU.

Before the rapid response team was in place, there were 11.2 cardiac arrests per 1,000 patients. After the team was started, the cardiac arrest rate was 7.5 per 1,000 patients. Whi
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