An initiative introduced at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Al Wakra Hospital is helping improve the care of inpatients and has reduced the number of ‘code blues’ and unplanned ICU admissions at that hospital.
The Rapid Response Team, a group of specially-trained critical care specialists available to rush to the bedside of any patient who appears to be developing complications, was established in late 2017 and today includes six critical care nurses, respiratory therapists, and intensivists. Each month the team responds to an average of 24 calls, ranging from low blood pressure and blood oxygen levels to rapid breathing.
“Most patients will show signs and symptoms of increasing instability for several hours before an adverse event. For example, a patient at risk for a cardiac arrest will often experience changes in breathing, heart rate, or mental status. With the right tools there is an opportunity to rescue these patients early in their decline before a crisis occurs,” explained Mohamed al-Jonidi, acting director of nursing, Critical Care Division, Al Wakra Hospital.
“The Rapid Response Team was formed from the goal of enabling high-acuity patient care to be delivered anywhere that it is needed in the hospital. We are a designated group of specially trained nurses, allied healthcare professionals, and doctors who can be assembled quickly to deliver advanced care assessment and treatment in response to the perceived or potential clinical deterioration of a patient,” added  al-Jonidi, who also manages the Rapid Response Team.
In 2015, HMC introduced the Qatar Early Warning System (QEWS) across its network of hospitals as part of an effort to help clinical staff recognise deteriorating patients before they became very sick. QEWS categorises a patient’s severity of illness by using a scoring system that prompts medical intervention at specific trigger points.
Dr Edin Karic, chief, Critical Care Division, says the aim of the Rapid Response Team differs from that of teams who respond to a ‘code blue’ in that the goal is to intervene before the onset of injury, respiratory arrest, or cardiac arrest.
“The goal of a ‘code blue’ is to perform resuscitation efforts after a person has stopped breathing, or after a person’s heart has stopped beating. The goal of the Rapid Response Team is preventative. The Rapid Response Team intervenes in the early stage of a potential code situation, relying on bedside nurses to prompt their action. Bedside nurses are highly sensitive to signs that a patient’s condition is deteriorating,” said Dr Karic.
In addition to reduced ‘code blues’, since the specially trained team was formed, Al Wakra Hospital has also recorded a decreased number of unplanned ICU admissions, decreased reactivation of adverse conditions, and enhanced patient safety, which Dr Karic credits to a timely multidisciplinary approach to care.