By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor
How do nurses who activate a call by their facility’s rapid response team feel about the experience? And why does it matter? These questions lie at the heart of a qualitative study by nurse researcher Susan E. Shapiro and colleagues, who report on their findings in this month’s CE feature (for optimum reading, open the PDF version). For the study, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Shapiro and colleagues interviewed 56 staff nurses from 18 hospitals in 13 states; all of the nurses had participated in at least one rapid response team activation. Based on the data, the researchers identified three categories, posed as questions, that best described the nurses’ experiences:
- Why was the team activated?
- What did the team bring to the bedside?
- How did the activating nurses feel about the experience?
Nurses tended to activate the rapid response team when a patient had signs and symptoms “that were either unexplained or significantly different from baseline,” when the nurse had a “gut feeling” that something was amiss, or when the nurse felt a patient needed urgent attention and couldn’t get the treating physician to respond. Overall, the activating nurses appreciated the added expertise and resources that rapid response team members brought to the bedside. As one nurse said, “You don’t have to figure it out; there’s going to be other minds there to work through it.”
Shapiro and colleagues also identified characteristics of successful team implementation and challenges encountered by nurses using the teams. They concluded that in hospitals they labeled robust adopters—those in which nurses were enthusiastic about their teams and activated them readily without fear of repercussion—nurses “no longer [felt] ‘thrown to the wolves’ when trying to obtain urgent care for patients in crisis.” To learn more, listen to author Susan Shapiro in conversation with AJN’s interim editor-in-chief Shawn Kennedy here (the podcast might take a few minutes to download).