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Association of time to rapid response team activation with patient outcomes using a range of physiologic deterioration thresholds

Critical Care Explorations November 3, 2022

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Research Areas


OBJECTIVES: Clinical deterioration of hospitalized patients is common and can lead to critical illness and death. Rapid response teams (RRTs) assess and treat high-risk patients with signs of clinical deterioration to prevent further worsening and subsequent adverse outcomes. Whether activation of the RRT early in the course of clinical deterioration impacts outcomes, however, remains unclear. We sought to characterize the relationship between increasing time to RRT activation after physiologic deterioration and short-term patient outcomes.

DESIGN: Retrospective multicenter cohort study.

SETTING: Three academic hospitals in Pennsylvania.

PATIENTS: We included the RRT activation of a hospitalization for non-ICU inpatients greater than or equal to 18 years old.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The primary exposure was time to RRT activation after physiologic deterioration. We selected four Cardiac Arrest Risk Triage (CART) score thresholds a priori from which to measure time to RRT activation (CART score ≥ 12, ≥ 16, ≥ 20, and ≥ 24). The primary outcome was 7-day mortality—death or discharge to hospice care within 7 days of RRT activation. For each CART threshold, we modeled the association of time to RRT activation duration with 7-day mortality using multivariable fractional polynomial regression. Increased time from clinical decompensation to RRT activation was associated with higher risk of 7-day mortality. This relationship was nonlinear, with odds of mortality increasing rapidly as time to RRT activation increased from 0 to 4 hours and then plateauing. This pattern was observed across several thresholds of physiologic derangement.

CONCLUSIONS: Increasing time to RRT activation was associated in a nonlinear fashion with increased 7-day mortality. This relationship appeared most marked when using a CART score greater than 20 threshold from which to measure time to RRT activation. We suggest that these empirical findings could be used to inform RRT delay definitions in further studies to determine the clinical impact of interventions focused on timely RRT activation.


National Institute of Health ( NIH)