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Optimizing Rapid Response Teams to Save Lives: New technologies and Early Warning Systems



Michael Miletin, MD, FRCPC

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Patients who deteriorate after ward admission have poor outcomes, including cardiac arrest and death, even after admission to intensive care or high dependency units. Clinical deterioration is almost always heralded by abnormalities in commonly obtained vital signs, hours to days in advance. However, these abnormalities are often overlooked or not responded to in a timely manner. Early warning systems have emerged over the last two decades as recognition of the problem of “failure to rescue” has become apparent. Most of these systems utilize simple algorithms that can predict the occurrence of adverse outcomes with a high degree of accuracy.  The spread of wireless technologies over the past decade has allowed caregivers to be notified of these predictions or “alerts” in real-time. The response arm of an early warning system should be carefully set according to caregiver accountability, with the goals of enhancing patient safety and optimizing the function of rapid response teams.


Learning objectives:

Upon completion of this activity, the participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the differences and similarities between the commonest types of early warning systems currently in clinical use

  2. Describe how early warning systems can optimize the functioning of rapid response teams

  3. Explain the key components necessary to deploy an early warning system in a hospital

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