When a Patient Needs Help, Our Rapid Response Team is Ready

Members of the Rapid Response Team at NorthBay Medical Center include, from left, Joshua Mefford, R.N.; Laura Corson, R.N.; Cheryl Veikos, R.N.; Cathy Carrasco, R.N.; Michelle Largaespada, R.N.; Micheline Ceccatti, R.C.P.; and Iris Roberson, R.C.P.

The safety of hospitalized patients is the focus of several national initiatives and a top priority at NorthBay Medical Center and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital. Hospitalized patients are often seriously ill, which makes them vulnerable to develop other sudden conditions, such as cardiac arrest, stroke, sepsis and acute renal failure.

A patient’s condition can quickly change and the sooner such a change is recognized, the sooner a serious event can be avoided. To respond to this problem, NorthBay developed Rapid Response Teams (RRT), which has become a national standard for improving patient safety.

More than 80 nurses and respiratory therapists at both hospitals have been trained as rapid response teams. Each team consists of an intensive care registered nurse and a respiratory therapist, who are available to evaluate a patient’s condition immediately upon request, 24/7.

“Anyone can call a Rapid Response Team to evaluate a patient, including the patient’s family,” says Elisa Jang, clinical practice manager for Critical Care Services. “If you have a loved one in the hospital and you recognize a change in his or her condition, we encourage you to call the team.”

There are many early warning signs present within hours of a possible heart attack or stroke. With an early intervention, the condition can often be prevented. Family members should be alert for any mental changes in the patient, breathing problems, seizures, chest pain or a new severe pain. Any concerns raised by the patient, the family or any nurse will be evaluated by the team.

The RRT made its debut at NorthBay hospitals in August 2008. Since that time, teams have responded to 796 cases, according to Jang.

“One of our main goals is to prevent Code Blues or cardiac arrests,” she explains.

Studies show that hospitals with RRTs can reduce the number of cardiac arrests and resulting deaths as well as reduce post-operative emergency ICU transfers and deaths. The top three reasons the RRT has been called this year include cardiac-related chest pain/low blood pressure, respiratory compromise, and mental status change. Identification of at-risk patients and early intervention is the key in preventing Code Blues and making an impact in positive clinical outcomes.

Signs are posted in both hospitals with instructions about how to contact the RRT. To activate a Rapid Response Team at NorthBay Medical Center, dial 1111; at VacaValley Hospital, dial 2222.

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