Characteristics and outcomes of rapid response team activations for hypotension in orthopaedic patients

João G.R. Ramos, Richard Zhang, Brendan Maher, Andrew Hardidge, Laurence Weinberg, Ray Robbins, Phillip J. Peyton, Rinaldo Bellomo, Daryl Jones

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Hypotension following orthopaedic surgery has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Rapid response teams (RRT) review patients on hospital wards with hypotension. Aim: To evaluate the epidemiology of hypotensive RRT activations in adult orthopaedic patients to identify contributing factors and areas for future quality improvement. Methods: Timing of RRT activations, presumed causes of hypotension and associated treatments were assessed. Results: Among 963 RRT activations in 605 patients over 3 years, the first calls of 226 of 605 patients were due to hypotension, and 213 (94.2%) of 226 had sufficient data for analysis. The median age was 79 (interquartile range 66–87) years; 58 (27.2%) were male, and comorbidities were common. Most (68%) surgery was emergent, and 75.1% received intraoperative vasopressors for hypotension. Most activations occurred within 24 h of surgery, and hypovolaemia, infection and arrhythmias were common presumed causes. Fluid boluses occurred in 173 (81.2%), and the time between surgery and RRT activation was 10 (4.0–26.5) h. in cases where fluid boluses were given, compared with 33 (15.5–61.5) h. where they were not (P < 0.001). Blood transfusion (30, 14.1%) and withholding of medications were also common. Hospital mortality was 8.5% (18), and 13.6% (29) were admitted to critical care at some stage. In-hospital death was associated with older age, functional dependence, arrhythmia and presumed infection. Conclusions: Hypotension-related RRT calls in orthopaedic patients are common. Future interventional studies might focus on perioperative fluid therapy and vaso-active medications, as well as withholding of anti-hypertensive medications preoperatively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-69
Number of pages9
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • hypotension
  • intensive care unit
  • medical emergency team
  • orthopaedic surgery
  • rapid response system
  • rapid response team

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