Introduction: Most literature on the medical emergency team (MET) relates to its effects on patient outcome. Less information exists on the most common causes of MET calls or on possible approaches to their management.
Methods: We reviewed the calling criteria and clinical causes of 400 MET calls in a teaching hospital. We propose a set of minimum standards for managing a MET review and developed an approach for managing common problems encountered during MET calls.
Results: The underlying reasons for initiating MET calls were hypoxia (41%), hypotension (28%), altered conscious state (23%), tachycardia (19%), increased respiratory rate (14%) and oliguria (8%). Infection, pulmonary oedema, and arrhythmias featured as prominent causes of all triggers for MET calls. The proposed minimum requirements for managing a MET review included determining the cause of the deterioration, documenting the events surrounding the MET, establishing a medical plan and ongoing medical follow-up, and discussing the case with the intensivist if certain criteria were fulfilled. A systematic approach to managing episodes of MET review was developed based on the acronym 'A to G': ask and assess; begin basic investigations and resuscitation, call for help if needed, discuss, decide, and document, explain aetiology and management, follow-up, and graciously thank staff. This approach was then adapted to provide a management plan for episodes of tachycardia, hypotension, hypoxia and dyspnoea, reduced urinary output, and altered conscious state.
Conclusion: A suggested approach permits audit and standardization of the management of MET calls and provides an educational framework for the management of acutely unwell ward patients. Further evaluation and validation of the approach are required.