'Call early, call often' campaign for RRT assistance

Nurse Leader Insider, January 22, 2007

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Rapid response teams (RRT) have become a major trend in patient care, but gaining staff acceptance when implementing the program can still be a challenge. East Texas Medical Center (ETMC), located in Athens, uses posters and cards to spread the word about why and when to call the team.

Nursing Performance Improvement Coordinator Melissa Lehman, RN, MSN, says the hospital started its RRT program as part of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 100,000 Lives campaign.

Lehman says the most important message is that calling an RRT is not an admission of failure; it's an acknowledgement that more hands are needed to tend to a deteriorating patient. "This is a way to help, it doesn't mean you don't know what you're doing," says Lehman.

Staff, especially veteran staffers, often felt that calling the RRT was a tacit admission of failure, she notes. The call early, call often campaign is directed at those team members to reassure them.

"We want to tell them, 'This doesn't mean you're dumb.' It's a hurdle," says Lehman. "Sometimes [staff] don't have everything they need, and the RRT can help."

The teams and campaign also place the patient's care front and center in the minds of all team members, says Lehman.

To spread the word about the team, the hospital made posters and hung them throughout the facility. The poster's theme, "Call early, call often," was designed to encourage calling the RRT before the patient goes into arrest or otherwise deteriorates further. Badges with the slogan were also made.

To further awareness, ETMC made a video about RRTs that employed humor as well as the Grim Reaper to drive home the point. The video depicts the Grim Reaper hanging around a patient as a nurse contemplates whether to call the RRT for assistance.

After the scene, Lehman and the hospital's chief nursing officer appear on screen to explain how the team works and why it's an important tool to help keep patients safe.

"Staff participated in making the video. That in and of itself increased understanding about the rapid response teams," says Lehman.

As the RRT is used in more cases, Lehman hopes to take real cases from within the hospital and use those stories to help improve buy-in from staff.

"When we have a situation go on, we try to bring that story back to staff," she says. "The goal is to encourage staff to keep calling."

Source: Briefings on Patient Safety, January 2007, HCPro, Inc.

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