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Clinical Nurse Specialists as Leaders in Rapid Response


doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e3181c4abe9
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The purposes of this article were to provide background information about rapid response teams (RRTs), to describe the actual and potential outcomes of RRTs, to define the potential role of the clinical nurse specialist in leading RRTs, and to provide recommendations for implementation of RRTs. Rapid response teams provide the opportunity for early intervention for patients demonstrating clinical decline before they reach a point of no return. The long-standing practice of waiting for intensive intervention (code blue) until the patient experiences cardiopulmonary arrest has shown poor outcomes, bringing this practice into question. Although research results are mixed, there is evidence to suggest that the successful use of RRTs results in clinically significant patient outcomes as evidenced by decreased cardiopulmonary arrests and decreased rates in mortality. Other positive patient, nursing, and organizational outcomes can result from RRTs and are discussed. Clinical nurse specialists are uniquely qualified to provide leadership in the development and implementation of RRTs and the monitoring of outcomes. As RRTs become a more common standard practice, further research is needed to examine their benefits and to further refine effective early intervention for high-risk patients.

Author Affiliations: Mennonite College of Nursing, Illinois State University, Normal.

Corresponding author: Sheryl D. Jenkins, PhD, ACNP, 22681 N 950E, Carlock, IL 61725 (

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