The IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement) has announced a campaign to save 100,000 lives, by enrolling hospitals to implement six proven practices to prevent avoidable deaths.

#1:  Deploy rapid response teams (RRTs).

Problem: Between 0.5 and 0.6 percent of patients suffer a cardiac arrest or shock while hospitalized, and only 17 percent of them survive to discharge. Most patients who arrest have signs beforehand; the potential for survival is higher in settings with monitoring; however, more critically ill patients are being treated outside of critical care units.

Recommendation: Institute a rapid response team that anyone can call for any patient when they are concerned that the patient is deteriorating.

Case study: Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis had a 28 percent decrease in codes for cardiac arrest after using RRTs and more codes occurred in ICUs. [FCG Healthcare Industry News Summary]

The survival rate of inpatients who arrest is a pretty sobering statistic.  And while RRTs may be worth while, the resulting improvement in survivability is nothing to write home about.  It seems that the best approach is to identify those patients before they arrest.  The technology to cost effectively accomplish this is available, and has the side benefit of improving patient flow.  This delivers improved patient outcomes (beyond patients who arrest) and improved financial performance for the hospital.