Skip to content

Impact of COVID-19 on inpatient clinical emergencies: A single-center experience

Resuscitation Plus June 1, 2021

Read the full article

Research Areas


AIM: Determine changes in rapid response team (RRT) activations and describe institutional adaptations made during a surge in hospitalizations for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

METHODS: Using prospectively collected data, we compared characteristics of RRT calls at our academic hospital from March 7 through May 31, 2020 (COVID-19 era) versus those from January 1 through March 6, 2020 (pre-COVID-19 era). We used negative binomial regression to test differences in RRT activation rates normalized to floor (non-ICU) inpatient census between pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 eras, including the sub-era of rapid COVID-19 census surge and plateau (March 28 through May 2, 2020).

RESULTS: RRT activations for respiratory distress rose substantially during the rapid COVID-19 surge and plateau (2.38 (95% CI 1.39-3.36) activations per 1000 floor patient-days v. 1.27 (0.82-1.71) during the pre-COVID-19 era; p = 0.02); all-cause RRT rates were not significantly different (5.40 (95% CI 3.94-6.85) v. 4.83 (3.86-5.80) activations per 1000 floor patient-days, respectively; p = 0.52). Throughout the COVID-19 era, respiratory distress accounted for a higher percentage of RRT activations in COVID-19 versus non-COVID-19 patients (57% vs. 28%, respectively; p = 0.001). During the surge, we adapted RRT guidelines to reduce in-room personnel and standardize personal protective equipment based on COVID-19 status and risk to providers, created decision-support pathways for respiratory emergencies that accounted for COVID-19 status uncertainty, and expanded critical care consultative support to floor teams.

CONCLUSION: Increased frequency and complexity of RRT activations for respiratory distress during the COVID-19 surge prompted the creation of clinical tools and strategies that could be applied to other hospitals.


National Heart,Lung,and Blood Institute ( NHLBI)