What Is the Role of the Staff Nurse on a Medical Emergency Team?

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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2016-11-21T13:12:55+00:00 May 25th, 2011|nursing perspective, nursing research|1 Comment

About the Author:

Former senior editor at AJN.

One Comment

  1. sarahpants May 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I’m a staff nurse on a med/surg floor, and have participated in a number of Rapid Response calls. I have no qualms about calling an Rapid response, and always do if I feel that A) my patient is not doing well and B) whatever I have tried or the doc has tried hasn’t worked. I’ve also called an RRT when I couldn’t get ahold of the doctor. I once called an MD for chest pain, couldn’t get ahold of them by beeper, and just called the rapid response. That got the MD there quick. You just do what is best for your patient. Some of my fellow staff don’t do this, and I’ve worked at encouraging them to call when needed. They seem receptive to it, which is great. I see my role as the bedside nurse. I give history, I tell the team what I’ve done so far, and I get the code cart set up. I then do what needs to be done from there. If I’m charge, I help the bedside nurse get supplies, I call MDs, again, whatever needs to be done to help out!

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