Critical care outreach teams can significantly reduce deaths from cardiac and respiratory causes, Canadian research has confirmed.
UK research, published in Critical Care earlier this month, found no evidence that outreach services had a major effect on the outcomes of patients admitted to ICU (NT News, 6 November, p8).
However, findings from Toronto General Hospital suggest its critical care outreach service saves around 80 lives per year.
This evidence supports the views of UK-based critical care nurses, who told NT they had seen reductions in ICU occupancy and crash call rates after critical care outreach teams were set up.
Data gathered on 342 Canadian patients between May 2005 and May 2006 revealed a 7% reduction in myocardial infarctions and a 25% reduction in respiratory arrests after the critical care outreach team was introduced.
The data also showed that 71% of patients were able to remain on the ward following intervention by the outreach team, while 21% needed to be transferred to ICU.
Mugs Zweerman, an ICU nurse who has been a member of the Canadian hospital’s outreach team since it was established, said: ‘We provide that extra set of eyes and ears to help the teams on the wards.’
A second study in the US showed an outreach team reduced deaths among non-ICU paediatric patients by 18% – saving 33 lives over 18 months – as well as a 70% decline in the rate of cardiac and respiratory arrests.
‘The potential implications of these findings on mortality rates for children are dramatic,’ the authors said.
The UK’s National Patient Safety Agency has just published guidance to help staff recognise deterioration in acutely ill patients.
Journal of the American Medical Association (2007) 298: 2267–2274