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      Bench-to-bedside review: The MET syndrome – the challenges of researching and adopting medical emergency teams

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          Studies of hospital performance highlight the problem of 'failure to rescue' in acutely ill patients. This is a deficiency strongly associated with serious adverse events, cardiac arrest, or death. Rapid response systems (RRSs) and their efferent arm, the medical emergency team (MET), provide early specialist critical care to patients affected by the 'MET syndrome': unequivocal physiological instability or significant hospital staff concern for patients in a non-critical care environment. This intervention aims to prevent serious adverse events, cardiac arrests, and unexpected deaths. Though clinically logical and relatively simple, its adoption poses major challenges. Furthermore, research about the effectiveness of RRS is difficult to conduct. Sceptics argue that inadequate evidence exists to support its widespread application. Indeed, supportive evidence is based on before-and-after studies, observational investigations, and inductive reasoning. However, implementing a complex intervention like RRS poses enormous logistic, political, cultural, and financial challenges. In addition, double-blinded randomised controlled trials of RRS are simply not possible. Instead, as in the case of cardiac arrest and trauma teams, change in practice may be slow and progressive, even in the absence of level I evidence. It appears likely that the accumulation of evidence from different settings and situations, though methodologically imperfect, will increase the rationale and logic of RRS. A conclusive randomised controlled trial is unlikely to occur.

          All truth passes through three stages.

          First, it is ridiculed.

          Second, it is violently opposed.

          Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

          Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), German philosopher

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          Most cited references 56

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          The Quality in Australian Health Care Study.

          A review of the medical records of over 14,000 admissions to 28 hospitals in New South Wales and South Australia revealed that 16.6% of these admissions were associated with an "adverse event", which resulted in disability or a longer hospital stay for the patient and was caused by health care management; 51% of the adverse events were considered preventable. In 77.1% the disability had resolved within 12 months, but in 13.7% the disability was permanent and in 4.9% the patient died.
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            Cardiopulmonary resuscitation of adults in the hospital: a report of 14720 cardiac arrests from the National Registry of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.

            The National Registry of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (NRCPR) is an American Heart Association (AHA)-sponsored, prospective, multisite, observational study of in-hospital resuscitation. The NRCPR is currently the largest registry of its kind. The purpose of this article is to describe the NRCPR and to provide the first comprehensive, Utstein-based, standardized characterization of in-hospital resuscitation in the United States. All adult (>/=18 years of age) and pediatric (<18 years of age) patients, visitors, employees, and staff within a facility (including ambulatory care areas) who experience a resuscitation event are eligible for inclusion in the NRCPR database. Between January 1, 2000, and June 30, 2002, 14720 cardiac arrests that met inclusion criteria occurred in adults at the 207 participating hospitals. An organized emergency team is available 24 h a day, 7 days a week in 86% of participating institutions. The three most common reasons for cardiac arrest in adults were (1) cardiac arrhythmia, (2) acute respiratory insufficiency, and (3) hypotension. Overall, 44% of adult in-hospital cardiac arrest victims had a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC); 17% survived to hospital discharge. Despite the fact that a primary arrhythmia was one of the precipitating events in nearly one half of adult cardiac arrests, ventricular fibrillation (VF) was the initial pulseless rhythm in only 16% of in-hospital cardiac arrest victims. ROSC occurred in 58% of VF cases, yielding a survival-to-hospital discharge rate of 34% in this subset of patients. An automated external defibrillator was used to provide initial defibrillation in only 1.4% of patients whose initial cardiac arrest rhythm was VF. Neurological outcome in discharged survivors was generally good. Eighty-six percent of patients with Cerebral Performance Category-1 (CPC-1) at the time of hospital admission had a postarrest CPC-1 at the time of hospital discharge.
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              Clinical antecedents to in-hospital cardiopulmonary arrest.

              While the outcome of in-hospital cardiopulmonary arrest has been studied extensively, the clinical antecedents of arrest are less well defined. We studied a group of consecutive general hospital ward patients developing cardiopulmonary arrest. Prospectively determined definitions of underlying pathophysiology, severity of underlying disease, patient complaints, and clinical observations were used to determine common clinical features. Sixty-four patients arrested 161 +/- 26 hours following hospital admission. Pathophysiologic alterations preceding arrest were classified as respiratory in 24 patients (38 percent), metabolic in 7 (11 percent), cardiac in 6 (9 percent), neurologic in 4 (6 percent), multiple in 17 (27 percent), and unclassified in 6 (9 percent). Patients with multiple disturbances had mainly respiratory (39 percent) and metabolic (44 percent) disorders. Fifty-four patients (84 percent) had documented observations of clinical deterioration or new complaints within eight hours of arrest. Seventy percent of all patients had either deterioration of respiratory or mental function observed during this time. Routine laboratory tests obtained before arrest showed no consistent abnormalities, but vital signs showed a mean respiratory rate of 29 +/- 1 breaths per minute. The prognoses of patients' underlying diseases were classified as ultimately fatal in 26 (41 percent), nonfatal in 23 (36 percent), and rapidly fatal in 15 (23 percent). Five patients (8 percent) survived to hospital discharge. Patients developing arrest on the general hospital ward services have predominantly respiratory and metabolic derangements immediately preceding their arrests. Their underlying diseases are generally not rapidly fatal. Arrest is frequently preceded by a clinical deterioration involving either respiratory or mental function. These features and the high mortality associated with arrest suggest that efforts to predict and prevent arrest might prove beneficial.

                Author and article information

                Crit Care
                Critical Care
                BioMed Central
                23 January 2008
                : 12
                : 1
                : 205
                [1 ]Department of Intensive Care and Department of Surgery (Melbourne University), Austin Hospital, Studley Road, Heidelberg, Melbourne, Victoria 3084, Australia
                Copyright © 2008 BioMed Central Ltd

                Emergency medicine & Trauma


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