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  • Writer's pictureSierra McNeil

Why have a Rapid Response Team (RRT)

Nurses are a large umbrella category of licensed individuals that care for patients in an incredibly variable healthcare context. Thus, nurses are vastly varied in their level of skill, knowledge, and practice. For instance, a postpartum nurse is very specialized and skilled at taking care of mothers and their newborn babies with a host of knowledge about breastfeeding, vaginal bleeding management, and early newborn care. That same nurse may not be skilled in understanding care for a patient with a complex cardiac condition.

What happens when the two seemingly different patients become one; when the postpartum mother has a heart problem? Perhaps a blood clot forms in a previously healthy new mother and she suddenly develops symptoms of a heart problem while in the postpartum unit (a very real–-albeit rare–possibility given the physiology surrounding pregnancy). The care required to treat that patient would exceed the level of expertise of the postpartum-specialized nurse.

This is the benefit of having a rapid response team (RRT), a team of highly trained and experienced clinicians who can critically assess potential patient deterioration and escalate the level of care. The team is a hospital safety feature designed to bridge the nursing knowledge deficit, bringing a higher level of clinical expertise to the bedside in support of and collaboration with the nurse caring for the patient. The intent is to provide added expertise that can investigate the clinical picture, prevent unnecessary testing, educate the nurse, and escalate care when necessary.

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