Nurses’ Experiences with Activating Rapid Response Teams: A Qualitative Study

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Fitzgerald, Lindsay
Rapid Response Team , Nurses
Patient clinical deterioration is a major safety concern. One strategy implemented for healthcare providers to help improve the timely recognition and response to patient deterioration is the Rapid Response Team (RRT). Despite this resource, patient deterioration still occurs and delayed activation of the RRT is one contributing factor. Little is known about the perspectives and experiences of unit-level (also termed “ward”) nurses related to RRT activation, which is problematic given they are the ones who are primarily responsible for that process. The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of nurses practising on general adult inpatient medicine units and their activation of the RRT. The research question was addressed with a descriptive, exploratory qualitative study. Nurses working on a medicine unit at an Ontario hospital study site were purposively recruited to participate. Semi-structured interviews with the six participants were held online and audio-video recorded. Inductive, thematic analysis was used. Eleven themes about the barriers and facilitators to RRT activation, and one overarching theme—The Self-Imposed Complexity of Deciding to Activate the RRT—resulted in relation to the nuanced, multi-factorial decision-making process unit-level nurses undertake when considering activation. This information will inform practice changes surrounding RRT policies, nursing education about the RRT, and be incentive for future research on optimizing strategies for RRTs and deteriorating patients.
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