Objective: To compare the differences in characteristics and outcomes of cancer center patients with other subspecialty medical patients reviewed by rapid response teams.
Design: A retrospective cohort study of hospitalized general medicine patients, subspecialty medicine patients, and oncology patients requiring rapid response team activation over a 2-year period from September 2009 to August 2011.
Patients: Five hundred fifty-seven subspecialty medical patients required rapid response team intervention.
Setting: A single academic medical center in the southeastern United States (800+ bed) with a dedicated 50-bed inpatient comprehensive cancer care center.
Interventions: Data abstraction from computerized medical records and a hospital quality improvement rapid response database.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 557 patients, 135 were cancer center patients. Cancer center patients had a significantly higher Charlson Comorbidity Score (4.4 vs 2.9, < 0.001). Cancer center patients had a significantly longer hospitalization period prior to rapid response team activation (11.4 vs 6.1 d, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference between proportions of patients requiring ICU transfer between the two groups (odds ratio, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.8–1.8). Cancer center patients had a significantly higher in-hospital mortality compared with the other subspecialty medical patients (33% vs 18%; odds ratio, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.50–3.5). If the rapid response team event required an ICU transfer, this finding was more pronounced (56% vs 23%; odds ratio, 4.0; 95% CI, 2.0–7.8). The utilization of rapid response team resources during the 2-year period studied was also much higher for the oncology patients with 37.34 activations per 1,000 patient discharges compared with 20.86 per 1,000 patient discharges for the general medical patients.
Conclusions: Oncology patients requiring rapid response team activation have a significantly higher in-hospital mortality rate, particularly if the rapid response team requires ICU transfer. Oncology patients also utilize rapid response team resources at a much higher rate.