Resident vs. attending in rapid response: No difference

A doctor's greenness has little bearing on patient outcomes when a hospital's rapid response team is deployed, Reuters reported.

A new study published in the journal Resuscitation focused on such teams headed by residents versus more seasoned attending physicians at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, according to Reuters. Although complications and mortality rates were slightly higher among those teams led by residents, the differences were so small that they were considered statistically insignificant.

Overall, 0.2 percent of patients died from the complications triggering the response team deployment when a veteran physician led the team. Although the mortality rate among attending physicians in such a situation was 0.8 percent, researchers said the difference could have been purely attributable to chance, according to Reuters. The rates of patients being treated by response teams who experienced a cardiac arrest were about the same at 2 percent.

Residents are more likely to order tests during a response team deployment, according to Reuters. "Residents may just not have the experience to rely on their clinical judgment," Babak Sarani, an associate professor of surgery at George Washington University in Washington and one of the study's authors, told the news service.

However, he added, using more senior physicians for all deployments may take them away from patients who are more critically ill.

The findings tend to contradict recent reports that senior physicians abuse residents and medical school students in the hospital settings due to their greenness, according to American Medical News.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- read the study abstract
- read the American Medical News article