Hospitals let families, patients activate rapid response

Generally speaking, hospitals have assumed that clinicians, not patients or their families, should decide when a sick person is having an emergency. But lately, a small number of hospitals have decided to change the protocol.

Roughly 20 U.S. hospitals, such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, now allow patients and family members to activate the hospital's "rapid response team" when they feel the patient is in crisis--or when they feel he or she needs more attention. The move taps into the growing availability of RRTs, which spring, in part, from initiatives designed to reduce preventable deaths.

At first, staff members weren't thrilled by the idea, concerned that they would be overwhelmed with petty requests. However, most are finding that patients are using their new power sparingly. Also, they're finding that patients and family members often know better than clinicians when a crisis looms, as they know what's normal and what's not for that individual.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Washington Post article

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