Clinical triggers: an alternative to a rapid response team

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2009 Mar;35(3):164-74. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(09)35022-9.


DHMC's clinical triggers program is a promising approach that addresses an unmet patient need. We have seen dramatic reductions in our non-ICU cardiopulmonary arrest rates, along with our ICU bounceback rates. In the context of our hospital, this program aligns well with our teaching mission while maximizing the resources that are currently available. RRTs are certainly one way to prevent the unnoticed deterioration of patients, but programs such as ours, which focus on prevention of ongoing deterioration, may yield more benefit for the patients in institutions similar to DHMC. Although our study does not alter the weight of evidence in the literature, it does offer a new focus on the afferent limb by clarifying the expectations of the primary responders. This was the essence of the deficiency in the aforementioned case study. Death is the natural, albeit sad, endpoint of all lives; the overarching goal of DHMC's clinical triggers system is to prevent the premature death of a hospitalized patient and thereby improve patient safety.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards
  • Heart Arrest / diagnosis
  • Heart Arrest / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration*
  • Intensive Care Units / standards
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team / standards
  • Safety Management / methods*
  • Safety Management / standards