Giving families the right to call rapid response may be smart

Over the past few years, hospitals have increasingly given families the right to summon rapid-response teams to a patient's bedside if they're afraid things aren't going well. In the past, only hospital staffers could summon such teams, which typically include specialists like intensivist physicians and respiratory therapists.

Hospital staffers typically dislike this idea, fearful that giving families this option will cause them to call the rapid response far too often and snarl up the process of care. However, this may not be the case, according to a new study.

The study, which appears in Pediatric Clinics of North America, looks at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's experience in launching a pediatric rapid-response team at the North Carolina Children's Hospital. The staff at NCCH were told to call on the RRT if family members were worried about a patient's condition.

After looking at stats for a year, it turned out that families triggered only 20 percent of RRT calls, and that the families had pretty good judgment--more than half the patients in family-driven calls had to be taken to the ICU.

After this experience, NCCH execs were so convinced of the value of RRT access that they created the Family Alert Initiative, allowing families to call the RRT directly using the same system the staff uses.

Readers, do you have any experience with how this type of initiative has worked out in adult populations? Is giving families RRT access more or less effective than it was in a pediatric setting?

To learn more about this study:
- read this Wall Street Journal Health Blog piece

Related Article:
Rapid-response teams have little effect on cardiac arrest deaths