Improving Patient Safety to Reduce Preventable Deaths: The Case of a California Safety Net Hospital

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Preventable deaths occur when signs and symptoms of risk and decline are not detected yet are present many hours prior to a deteriorating course. Rapid responses teams (RRTs), also referred to as medical emergency teams (METs) were introduced to improve patient safety by preventing code arrests and death. This research using a case study methodology describes a nurse-led RRT, developed at a large, safety net, teaching hospital in California. Safety-net hospitals are challenged to deliver care and meet the complex needs of vulnerable patient populations. This hospital is a mission driven organization that is focused on the patient and the needs of underserved populations. To respond to the call for reform for patient safety and reduce adverse events, the organization adopted RRTs, early recognition rounds by RRT registered nurses (RNs) and the use of trigger alerts by nursing assistants (NAs) to expand the surveillance and identification of patients most at risk of clinical deterioration. Collaboration with interns and residents (house staff) facilitated their involvement and response to RRT calls. Using quality data from 2005 to 2010, findings from this patient safety innovation address RRT utilization, frequency of non-ICU code arrests, hospital mortality, and post-arrest survival outcomes.

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