Unplanned ICU Admission from Hospital Wards after Rapid Response Team Review in Australia and New Zealand

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Objectives: To evaluate what proportion of unplanned ICU admissions from hospital wards occurred after rapid response team review and compare baseline characteristics and outcomes of patients admitted after rapid response team review with non-rapid response team-related admissions. Design: Multicenter binational retrospective cohort study. Setting: One-hundred seventy-eight ICUs across Australia and New Zealand. Patients: All adults (≥ 17 yr) in the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Adult Patient Database between 2012 and 2017. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: Among 97,181 unplanned ICU admissions from the ward, prior rapid response team review occurred in 55,084 cases (56.7%). Rapid response team patients were slightly older (65.4 [16.9] vs 63.3 [18]), had a higher Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation III score (64.6 [27.1] vs 54.7 [25.3]) and more frequently had limitations of medical treatment (13.1% vs 8.5%) compared with patients with no rapid response team review. The strongest independent associations with ICU admission following rapid response team review included age, ICU admission diagnosis (especially sepsis-, neurologic-, respiratory-, and cardiovascular-related), tertiary ICU status, and presence of limitations of medical treatment (p < 0.0001 all comparisons). Rapid response team-related ICU admissions had a longer median ICU (2.4 d [1.2-4.6 d] vs 2.1 d [1.0-4.2 d]) and hospital (12.8 d [7.0-23.6 d] vs 10.8 d [5.9-20.3 d]) length of stay, and were more likely to die in the ICU (12.3% vs 7.5%) and in-hospital (20.8% vs 13.5%) (p < 0.0001). After adjusting for illness severity and institution, patients admitted following rapid response team review stayed longer in hospital but were not at increased risk of dying in-hospital (adjusted odds ratio, 1.03; 0.98-1.07). Conclusions: In Australia and New Zealand, hospital ward patients admitted to ICU following rapid response team review represent the majority of ward-based ICU admissions, are more chronically and acutely ill, and more frequently have sepsis than those admitted from the ward without rapid response team review. Their unadjusted outcomes are worse, but after adjustment their mortality is similar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e550-e556
Number of pages7
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • adult
  • intensive care unit
  • medical emergency team
  • mortality
  • rapid response team

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