Rapid Response Teams Seen Through the Eyes of the Nurse

How Nurses Who Activate Such Teams Feel about the Experience, and Why it Matters

Rapid response teams, also known as medical emergency teams, quickly bring needed resources to a patient who has developed a life-threatening complication. Researchers conducted focus groups to glean the attitudes and experiences of the staff nurses who activated these teams, which usually include critical care experts such as intensive care unit nurses, respiratory therapists, intensivists and resident physicians.

Key Findings:

  • Successful rapid response teams where those in which nurses activated the team without hesitation and the team was supportive of the nurses.
  • The team was viewed as bringing additional resources—extra eyes, hands, minds and bodies—to help meet the patient’s immediate needs.
  • Nurses with critical care or emergency department expertise were regarded as invaluable team members.
  • After a team left and a medical emergency was resolved, nurses felt affirmed in their decision to activate it and encouraged by the positive outcome.

Nurses at hospitals that supported rapid response teams said that having one was evidence of tangible support by the hospital administration for nurses. Rapid response teams enhance nurses’ work environment and were considered so important that some nurses said they would be reluctant to work in a facility that did not have one.