Objective: To determine the relationship between implementation of rapid response teams and improved mortality rate using a large, uniform dataset from one state in the United States.
Design: This observational cohort study included 471,062 adult patients hospitalized between 2001 and 2009.
Setting: Ten acute tertiary care hospitals in Washington State.
Patients or Other Participants: Hospital abstract records on adult patients (18 years old or older) were examined (n = 471,062). Patients most likely to benefit from rapid response team interventions were included and other prognostic factors of severity of illness and comorbidities were controlled. Each participating hospital provided the implementation date of their rapid response team intervention. Mortality rates in 31 months before rapid response team implementation (pre–rapid response team time period) were compared with mortality rates in 31 months following rapid response team implementation (post–rapid response team time period).
Intervention(s): Implementation of a rapid response team within each acute tertiary care hospital.
Measurements and Main Results: In-hospital mortality. Relative risk for in-hospital mortality improved in the post-rapid response team time period compared with the pre-rapid response team time period (relative risk = 0.76; 95% CI = 0.72–0.80; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: In-hospital mortality improved in six of 10 acute tertiary care hospitals in the post-rapid response team time period when compared with the pre-rapid response team time period. Because of a long-term trend of decline in hospital mortality, these decreases could not be unambiguously attributed to rapid response team implementation. Further research should examine additional objective outcomes and optimal configuration of rapid response teams to maximize intervention effectiveness.