Objective: To determine the effect of a medical emergency team (MET) on the incidence of unexpected cardiac arrest and death.
Design: Comparison of retrospective data (pre-MET) before introduction of MET with prospective data after introduction of MET system (post-MET).
Setting: Tertiary care pediatric hospital.
Patients: A total of 104,780 admissions during a 41-month period pre-MET; 138,424 admissions during 48 months post-MET.
Interventions: Introduction of a MET.
Results: Total hospital deaths decreased from 4.38 to 2.87/ 1000 admissions (risk ratio 0.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.57-0.75, p < 0.0001). Ward unexpected death decreased from 13 (0.12/1000) to 6 (0.04/1000) (risk ratio 0.35, 95% CI 0.13- 0.92, p = 0.03) but unexpected cardiac arrests did not change from 0.19/1000 to 0.17/1000 (risk ratio 0.91, 95% CI 0.50 -1.64, p = 0.75). Thirty-four hospital deaths, including three unexpected deaths (1 out of 72 MET calls), were prevented each year of MET operation. Preventable cardiac arrest (children whose symptoms or signs fulfilled MET calling criteria) decreased from 17 (0.16/ 1000) to 10 (0.07/1000) (risk ratio 0.45, 95% CI 0.20-0.97, p = 0.04) and in whom death decreased from 12 to 2 (0.11/1000 to 0.01/1000) (risk ratio 0.13, 95% CI 0.03-0.56, p = 0.001). Nonpreventable cardiac arrest (children whose symptoms or signs did not fulfill MET calling criteria) increased from 3 to 14 (0.03/1000 to 0.10/1000, p = 0.03) but death did not increase. Survival from cardiac arrest increased from 7 of 20 patients to 17 of 23 (risk ratio 2.11, 95% CI 1.11- 4.02, p = 0.01). Annual calls for urgent assistance were 202 in the post-MET era and 46 during the pre-MET era (ratio 4.4:1).
Conclusions: Introduction of a MET was associated with reduction of total hospital death and reduction of preventable cardiac arrest and death with increased survival in wards of a pediatric hospital. MET calling criteria identified some but not all children at risk of unexpected cardiac arrest and death.