Wood C, Chaboyer W, Carr P. Int J Nurs Stud. 2019;94:166-178.
Early detection of patient deterioration remains an elusive patient safety target. This scoping review examined how nurses employ early warning scoring systems that prompt them to call rapid response teams. Investigators identified 23 studies for inclusion. Barriers to effective identification and treatment of patient deterioration included difficulty implementing early warning score systems, overreliance on numeric risk scores, and inconsistent activation of rapid response teams based on early warning score results. They recommend that nurses follow scoring algorithms that calculate risk for deterioration while supplementing risk scoring with their clinical judgment from the bedside. A WebM&M commentary highlighted how early recognition of patient deterioration requires not only medical expertise but also collaboration and communication among providers.
Following surgery under general anesthesia, a boy was extubated and brought to postanesthesia care unit (PACU). Due to the patient's age and length of the surgery, the PACU anesthesiologist ordered continuous pulse-oximetry monitoring for 24 hours. Deemed stable to leave the PACU, the boy was transported to the regular floor. When the nurse went to place the patient on pulse oximetry, she realized he was markedly hypoxic. She administered oxygen by face mask, but he became bradycardic and hypotensive and a code blue was called.
This magazine article reports on the preventable death of a patient during an acute asthma attack. Written by the patient's husband, the article outlines the failures that led to her death despite the fact that she was at the door of a hospital emergency department and on the phone with an emergency dispatcher. Factors discussed include overreliance on poorly functioning technology, communication failures, and lack of fail-safes.
Parshuram CS, Dryden-Palmer K, Farrell C, et al. JAMA. 2018;319:1002-1012.
Identifying incipient clinical deterioration is a prerequisite for rapid response and prevention of harm for hospitalized patients. This study tested a bedside pediatric early warning system, which included an illness severity score, standardized documentation, and monitoring protocols. In a cluster-randomized trial in several high-income countries, implementation of the bundle did not result in decreased in-hospital mortality compared to usual care. The overall mortality rate in the study was less than 0.2%. The authors suggest that this unexpectedly low mortality rate may have made it difficult to detect differences in intervention versus control hospitals. A related editorial suggests that artificial intelligence should be used to identify clinical deterioration and that outcomes beyond mortality should be considered in their evaluation.
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