Rapid response teams lower death toll - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rapid response teams lower death toll

May 10, 2006

Albany -- The teams are made up of critical care nurses and respiratory therapists.

If a Phoebe Putney nurse outside the Intensive Care Unit or emergency room notices an unexpected change in a patient's condition, she can call in the response team. They immediately help identify the problem before its turns deadly.

Since Phoebe implemented the rapid response teams, the death rate at the hospital has dropped 13%. And, fewer patients are suffering often life threatening cardiac and respiratory arrests outside the ICU.

Medical floor nurse Kimberly Lane knows the Rapid Response Teams save lives. "We had a patient who's vital signs were dropping. She was going into respiratory stress, and it's 4:00AM and we are trying to get a hold of a doctor," she said.

With the attending doctor on the way, Lane called in the response team. "They show up in minutes, and we can assess that patient with their experience. We went ahead and moved that patient to that [ICU] unit while we were trying to get a hold of the doctor. That probably prevent her from going to a code."

Code often means a patient has gone into cardiac or respiratory arrest, which is often deadly. "It does save lives," said Lane.

"This rapid assessment team is really about getting the right care to the right patient at the right time." Debra Williamson is the Vice President of Critical Care Services. She says the response teams, made up of respiratory therapists and critical care nurses, help to identify what's causing a patient's condition to get worse.

When they know what's wrong sooner, the can treat the problem quicker. "They either take care the situation, the problem the patient is having, right there in that room and the patient stays there. Or because they have responded in such a quick manner, that patient may end up going to the Intensive Care Unit. But it's done before anything really catastrophic happens," she said.

The response teams helped to lower the number of codes outside the ICU and emergency room by nearly half. And that's a lot of people who were saved thanks to this new way kind of patient care.

The Volunteer Hospital Association awarded Phoebe Putney its 2006 Leadership Award for Clinical Excellence because of the success of the rapid response teams.

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