Rapid Response Teams

In 1986, the first National Demonstration Project on Quality Improvement in Health Care was launched to explore the application of modern quality improvement methods to the health care industry.

From those humble beginnings grew a nationwide effort that’s been spearheaded since 1991 by the non-profit Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).

In 2004, the IHI launched an ambitious plan to improve patient safety called the “100,000 Lives Campaign.” The idea was simple: implement six quality initiatives and save 100,000 lives in the bargain. Since then, the IHI has upgraded the effort to the “5 Million Lives Campaign,” adding another six initiatives the organization believes will save five million lives by December of 2008.

A key part of the original plan—and an integral part of the new one as well—calls for hospitals to establish “rapid response teams” aimed at catching patients who are rapidly failing outside of the ICU before their condition worsens to the point where an ICU admission is necessary—or to get those patients to definitive care in the ICU as soon as possible to ensure an optimal outcome.

Since most patients in this situation have a respiratory component to their care, respiratory therapists have been considered key team members, and most of the nearly 1,800 hospitals that have already implemented these teams have teams that consist of an RT and a critical care nurse, along with a physician, physician’s assistant, and/or pharmacist in some cases.

As a key partner in the IHI Campaigns, the AARC has facilitated the RT’s involvement on these teams through articles in Association publications and networking on Specialty Section and other email lists.

This web page builds on those efforts by providing RTs with a list of resources they can use to establish and refine rapid response teams in their facilities and promote their involvement on these teams in their communities.

IHI Resources

Establish a Rapid Response Team
This page includes links to everything you ever wanted to know about implementing a team in your facility, including:

The following pages feature success stories from hospitals that have implemented teams. All specifically note the involvement of an RT on the team:

Video Description

Baylor University Health Care System in Dallas, TX has produced a video describing the use and function of Rapid Response Teams. This video is a good informational piece for patients, as well as health care practitioners unfamiliar with the concept of these teams. We appreciate Baylor’s permission for the use of this video.

AARC Times Articles

These articles share the experiences of AARC members who are serving on rapid response teams in their hospitals:

News Articles Noting RT Involvement on Rapid Response Teams

This sampling of news articles illustrates the media coverage RTs are receiving for their involvement on rapid response teams across the country.