Assessment of Rapid Response Teams at Top-Performing Hospitals for In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

Kimberly Dukes, Jacinda L. Bunch, Paul S. Chan, Timothy C. Guetterman, Jessica L. Lehrich, Brad Trumpower, Molly Harrod, Sarah L. Krein, Joan E. Kellenberg, Heather Schacht Reisinger, Steven L. Kronick, Theodore J. Iwashyna, Brahmajee K. Nallamothu, Saket Girotra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Importance: Rapid response teams (RRTs) are foundational to hospital response to deteriorating conditions of patients. However, little is known about differences in RRT organization and function across top-performing and non-top-performing hospitals for in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) care. Objective: To evaluate differences in design and implementation of RRTs at top-performing and non-top-performing sites for survival of IHCA, which is known to be associated with hospital performance on IHCA incidence. Design, Setting, and Participants: A qualitative analysis was performed of data from semistructured interviews of 158 hospital staff members (nurses, physicians, administrators, and staff) during site visits to 9 hospitals participating in the Get With The Guidelines-Resuscitation program and consistently ranked in the top, middle, and bottom quartiles for IHCA survival during 2012-2014. Site visits were conducted from April 19, 2016, to July 27, 2017. Data analysis was completed in January 2019. Main Outcomes and Measures: Semistructured in-depth interviews were performed and thematic analysis was conducted on strategies for IHCA prevention, including RRT roles and responsibilities. Results: Of the 158 participants, 72 were nurses (45.6%), 27 physicians (17.1%), 27 clinical staff (17.1%), and 32 administrators (20.3%). Between 12 and 30 people at each hospital participated in interviews. Differences in RRTs at top-performing and non-top-performing sites were found in the following 4 domains: team design and composition, RRT engagement in surveillance of at-risk patients, empowerment of bedside nurses to activate the RRT, and collaboration with bedside nurses during and after a rapid response. At top-performing hospitals, RRTs were typically staffed with dedicated team members without competing clinical responsibilities, who provided expertise to bedside nurses in managing patients who were at risk for deterioration, and collaborated with nurses during and after a rapid response. Bedside nurses were empowered to activate RRTs based on their judgment and experience without fear of reprisal from physicians or hospital staff. In contrast, RRT members at non-top-performing hospitals had competing clinical responsibilities and were generally less engaged with bedside nurses. Nurses at non-top-performing hospitals reported concerns about potential consequences from activating the RRT. Conclusions and Relevance: This qualitative study's findings suggest that top-performing hospitals feature RRTs with dedicated staff without competing clinical responsibilities, that work collaboratively with bedside nurses, and that can be activated without fear of reprisal. These findings provide unique insights into RRTs at hospitals with better IHCA outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1398-1405
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Internal Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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