Pi Phi Chapter

Managing Obstetrical Emergencies: Are Rapid Response Teams the Answer?

Nursing Research on the Green

2011 Abstract

Jennifer A. Varney, BSN, RNC 
Viterbo University 

Evidence-based practice 

  • Background: Recent statistics reveal that infant deaths due to maternal pregnancy complications are at their highest rate in the last 10 years (March of Dimes, 2009a). Many complications of pregnancy can result in obstetrical emergencies, therefore adequate identification and staff response is essential for the improvement of obstetrical patient outcomes. 
  • Significance: Ascertaining which actions healthcare professionals can undertake to positively influence the safety of obstetrical patients and their unborn children is imperative in order to decrease the incidence of morbidity and mortality. The implementation of rapid response teams (RRTs) has been touted as paramount for patient safety in hospital settings.  
  • Purpose/objective: The purpose of this project was to analyze the published literature for evidence supporting the use of RRTs in general, to explicate current methods of staff preparation for the improvement of patient safety in obstetrics, and to determine the use of RRTs in the obstetrics specialty. 
  • Methods/project: A search of the literature was performed to identify relevant sources, published between 2004 and August of 2009, utilizing the following terms in various combinations: obstetrics, emergencies, patient safety, quality of care, rapid response teams, training, hospitals, and inpatients. 
  • Results: Because RRTs have not consistently shown a statistically significant improvement in patient outcomes in general, other approaches may have more potential value individually or together for staff utilization in obstetrical patient safety (e.g., drills, protocols, simulations, team training, reporting systems, obstetrical safety nurse, early warning scores). At this time there is insufficient data regarding RRTs in obstetrics and their influences on maternal and newborn outcomes. 
  • Clinical Implications: RRTs may have a promising role within a more comprehensive obstetrical patient safety program; however, more systematic studies of obstetrical RRTs are needed. 

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