By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

There is strong evidence that a hospital’s use of a medical emergency team (MET) helps to decrease the rates of in-hospital cardiac arrests, unplanned ICU admissions, and overall hospital mortality. (A MET is similar to a rapid response team, but is typically led by a physician rather than by a nurse.)

But our understanding of such teams is incomplete. Nurse researcher Margaret Pusateri and colleagues set out to explore, in particular, the role of non-ICU staff nurses during a MET call. They wanted to better understand such nurses’ familiarity with and perceptions of the MET, and possibly, to increase the team’s effectiveness. So they sent a survey to 388 non-ICU staff nurses at a large urban teaching hospital; 131 nurses (34%) responded.

The authors report on the results in May’s CE feature (for optimum reading, open the PDF version). Among their findings:

  • Nearly three-quarters of the respondents had participated in a MET call.
  • The most common actions they reported taking during the call included relaying patient history, initiating the call, and documenting MET data.
  • But fewer than half of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statements “I feel comfortable with my role as a member of the MET” and “I know what my role as a member of the MET is.”
  • About one-third of the respondents reported having been hesitant to call a MET, citing physician discouragement and uncertainty about the severity of the patient’s condition as the most common reasons.

The authors concluded that the role of staff nurses during a MET call remains unclear, adding that such findings are “cause for concern. They suggest that, despite educational efforts, the rapid response system has yet to be fully understood and integrated into hospital culture.”

For an article on related nursing research, see last June’s CE feature, “Rapid Response Teams Seen Through the Eyes of the Nurse”; a related post is here. And if you’ve participated in a MET or rapid response team call, please share your experiences in the comments.

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