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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Developing and evaluating the success of a family activated medical emergency team: a quality improvement report.

Brady PW, Zix J, Brilli R, et al. BMJ quality & safety. 2015;24:203-11.

Allowing families to activate medical emergency teams (METs) may aid in the early detection of clinical deterioration. However, physicians have expressed concerns that families do not understand when an MET is necessary and that this responsibility could present an undue stress on family members. This study reports on the experience of family-activated MET calls over a 6-year period at an academic children's hospital. There were 83 family-activated MET calls, representing less than 3% of all MET responses at this hospital. Families most frequently requested METs for concerns regarding clinical deterioration, but less than one-quarter of these calls resulted in patients being transferred to an intensive care unit, compared to 60% of clinician-activated METs. Since families called METs only between one to two times per month, the program was not felt to pose a substantial burden. The authors also point out that some family-activated METs identified other clinically relevant information that may not have otherwise been shared with the primary clinical team, as well as important communication issues that could have led to adverse events.