New Rapid Response Team Initiated at Baystate Medical Center

SPRINGFIELD — Lacisha Lanier, who is awaiting a kidney transplant, is convinced that the new Rapid Response Team, introduced at Baystate Medical Center in October, helped save her life during a recent stay at the hospital, where she was admitted for complications from a combination of low calcium and high potassium in her system.

Baystate implemented the Rapid Response Team several months ago as part of its participation in the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s 100,000 Lives Campaign, which recenmtly announced that, after 18 months, it has reached its goal of saving the lives of 100,000 patients at hospitals around the country.

“The Rapid Response Team is a great asset to the hospital, especially in situations like mine, and I feel good about what the team did for me,” said Lanier. “The name fits them perfectly; they were at my bedside quickly to assess my condition and worked fast to get me better.”

The new Rapid Response Team is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week and can be summoned by any staff member at any time who is concerned about a patient who appears critically ill before they have a cardiac arrest or other adverse event. The team consists of a critical care registered nurse, a respiratory therapist, and the patient’s physician or resident.

Initially launched in December of 2004, the 100,000 Lives Campaign is the first-ever national campaign to promote saving a specified number of lives in more than 3,000 participating hospitals during an 18-month period through the implementation of proven, evidence-based, practices and procedures. Activating a Rapid Response Team was among the six life-saving initiatives outlined by the 100,000 Lives Campaign.

Jan Fitzgerald RN, MS, director of Quality Medical Management at Baystate, noted the new Rapid Response Team “allows treatment to begin on a patient immediately without transfer to a higher intensive service within the hospital … the resources come to the patient.”

“The development and implementation of the Rapid Response Team was a multidisciplinary effort between nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, social workers, and other caregivers who continue to sustain this initiative,” said Fitzgerald, noting patient safety requires teamwork to be practiced every day.

“The Rapid Response Team also served as a morale booster for nurses because it empowered them and gave them a tool when recognizing something serious was happening with their patient, to be able to call the team without a physician order,” she added.

“Time is valuable and the more seconds you wait for treatment could be time off of your life, and the ability to call the Rapid Response Team gives nurses a chance to act on their feeling that something is wrong,” Lanier said.

And she noted the team is very compassionate.

“They worked really fast to assess my situation and get me back to normal, and during that critical time someone was by my side holding my hand and reassuring me that I would be okay and to stay calm,” Lanier said.

“And I really appreciate the compassion shown to me….that is part of the job of caregivers when people are sick and afraid of dying,” she added.

As part of the Campaign, Baystate Medical Center, in recognition of its work in successfully treating heart attack patients and preventing infections at surgical sites, was named a mentor hospital by the IHI for institutions across the country. Baystate Medical Center received the designation with only 26 others in the U.S. serving as a leader for other hospitals.

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