Rapid Response Teams

An RRT, or Rapid Response Team, is a designated group of healthcare clinicians who can be assembled quickly to deliver Advanced Care (ACLS or PALS) assessment and treatment expertise in response to the perceived or potential clinical deterioration of a patient.

RRTs may consist of any of the following staff positions with ACLS, PALS or advanced certification and training: (not intended as an exhaustive list)

  • Physician, anesthesiologist, intensivist, hospitalist, medical resident or telehealth provider
  • Critical care, emergency department or specialty RN (such as stroke, imaging or dialysis)
  • IV therapy, transport, float, medical-surgical or post-acute surgical unit RN
  • Clinical nurse specialist, nurse educator or house supervisor
  • Pharmacist, pharmacy resident, respiratory therapist or other staff

The varied expertise of the team is complemented by the focused expertise of the bedside nursing staff, patient and family. There is no set number of team members. Some hospitals will designate one or two team members while others have five or six. A rapid response team might be one individual per shift who can collaborate with the bedside nurse, patient and family when responding to a concern.

In every model, there are three key features of the team members:

  • They must be available to respond immediately when called
  • They must be onsite and accessible
  • They must have the advanced skills necessary to assess and respond (ACLS or PALS)

The RRT has several potential roles:

  • General rounding for staff support, enhanced surveillance and abnormal labs
  • Active screening for sepsis, suspicion of infection or changes in mental status
  • Transfer assessments, clinical outreach and continuous quality improvement
  • Investigation of unexplained pain, possible cardiac event or respiratory changes
  • Second victim support, nurse mentoring and professional development
  • Standardized safety net to reduce harm and improve clinical outcomes
  • Provide opportunities for collaboration and relationship building
  • Meeting the needs of patients, families, staff and providers

Why is this important?

This is important to such organizations as Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)The Joint Commission (TJC)Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM).

This is important because rapid response teams can play a vital role in the reduction of respiratory and/or cardiac arrests and improve patient outcomes. These teams usually consist of healthcare professionals who bring critical care knowledge to the patient’s bedside.

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Patient and Family Member-Initiation
RRT’s are traditionally triggered by nursing staff, but some hospitals have allowed patients and their families to trigger an RRT. Other facilities have developed family activated response pathways for rapid patient assessment independently from RRTs. Family Activated Rapid Response Programs are known by many names. “Organizations empower staff, patients and/or families to request additional assistance when they have a concern about the patient’s condition [and] provide formal education for urgent response policies and practices for those who may request assistance and those who may respond to those requests.” This involves facilities engaging family caregivers in immediate alert pathways to enhance rescue efforts. Assessing and supporting this culture of Person and Family Engagement is the central focus of our RRT program.

Descriptive names and acronyms for patient/family-activated rapid response teams. Family-activated safety team (FAST), family-initiated rapid response and safety team (FIRRST), family-initiated rapid support team (FIRST), family-initaited rapid screening team (Call FIRST), patient/family-initiated rapid response team (P/FRRT), condition HELP/Condition H, Code Care, Partners in Care, Together Caring for your Family as Our Own, We're Here to Help


Process Measure
Staff-initiated Rapid Response Teams in the region as documented by the quarterly RRT Survey (or QBS 2.0)

  • Process Measure Numerator: Number of hospitals who have fully implemented staff-initiated rapid response processes.
  • Process Measure Denominator: Total number of HIIN hospitals.



Here are helpful documents regarding RRT-Staff Initiated and RRT- Patient and Family Initiated, which include examples of policies, communication tools, implementation plans that have been used by other hospitals. If you have any questions or what you are looking for is not listed here, please reach out to us. Remember we are here to help!



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