Rapid response systems

Patrick G. Lyons, Dana P. Edelson, Matthew M. Churpek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Introduction: Rapid response systems are commonly employed by hospitals to identify and respond to deteriorating patients outside of the intensive care unit. Controversy exists about the benefits of rapid response systems. Aims: We aimed to review the current state of the rapid response literature, including evolving aspects of afferent (risk detection) and efferent (intervention) arms, outcome measurement, process improvement, and implementation. Data sources: Articles written in English and published in PubMed. Results: Rapid response systems are heterogeneous, with important differences among afferent and efferent arms. Clinically meaningful outcomes may include unexpected mortality, in-hospital cardiac arrest, length of stay, cost, and processes of care at end of life. Both positive and negative interventional studies have been published, although the two largest randomized trials involving rapid response systems – the Medical Early Response and Intervention Trial (MERIT) and the Effect of a Pediatric Early Warning System on All-Cause Mortality in Hospitalized Pediatric Patients (EPOCH) trial – did not find a mortality benefit with these systems, albeit with important limitations. Advances in monitoring technologies, risk assessment strategies, and behavioral ergonomics may offer opportunities for improvement. Conclusions: Rapid responses may improve some meaningful outcomes, although these findings remain controversial. These systems may also improve care for patients at the end of life. Rapid response systems are expected to continue evolving with novel developments in monitoring technologies, risk prediction informatics, and work in human factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-197
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Medical emergency teams
  • Rapid response systems
  • Rapid response teams


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