An Observational Analysis of Medication Use During 5,727 Medical Emergency Team Activations at a Tertiary Referral Hospital

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Background: Medical emergency teams (METs) rescue deteriorating patients as the response arm of hospital rapid response systems. This study aimed to (1) investigate medication use during MET activations by describing the type, frequency and access sources of medications; and (2) assess associations between patient characteristics, MET activation criteria, and outcomes and MET medication use. Methods: A single-center, retrospective study from a prospective database of MET activations in an Australian tertiary referral hospital was undertaken. Consecutive adult MET activations over a 12-month period were included. Results: Across the study period, there were 5,727 MET activations with medications used at 33.5% (n = 1,920). Of 2,648 medications used, cardiac system agents (n = 944; 35.6%) were the most common category used, while intravenous electrolytes (n = 341; 12.9%) and opioid analgesics (n = 248; 9.4%).were the most frequently used medications. Most commonly, medications were sourced from ward stocks. High blood pressure, heart or respiratory rate, pain, and multiple activation criteria were associated with MET medication use (p < 0.001). Patients who required medications were less likely to remain on the ward, and immediate admission to the ICU was approximately doubled (odds ratio = 1.90; 95% confidence interval = 1.47–2.45). Conclusion: Medication use by the MET was common and associated with escalation to intensive care. A wide variety of medications, principally from ward stocks, were used with some predictability based on activation criteria. Local system improvements have demonstrated that by focusing on common MET syndromes and medications, further investigation can refine and improve medication use and management systems for deteriorating patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-508
Number of pages7
JournalThe Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

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