Rapid response teams, though promoted by Joint Commission and IHI have not been supported by high level evidence. The latest analysis, a systematic review recently published in Critical Care Medicine, offers little more in the way of evidentiary support for RRTs.
RRTs were marginally effective in preventing cardiac arrest in the pooled analysis of observational studies but not in the only randomized controlled trial (RCT). RRTs had no impact on mortality in any level of study (neither in observational studies nor in the two RCTs). This is consistent with what was known before. Despite these negative findings Joint Commission urges hospitals to use “Rapid Response Systems to Save Lives” and the IHI declares that the use of RRTs is “perhaps the most dramatic of the six strategies at the heart of IHI’s 100,000 Lives Campaign”.
The authors of the systematic review conclude that “Large randomized controlled trials are needed to clarify the efficacy of rapid response systems before they should become standard of care.”