The 'chain of survival' has been a useful tool for improving the understanding of, and the quality of the response to, cardiac arrest for many years. In the 2005 European Resuscitation Council Guidelines the importance of recognising critical illness and preventing cardiac arrest was highlighted by their inclusion as the first link in a new four-ring 'chain of survival'. However, recognising critical illness and preventing cardiac arrest are complex tasks, each requiring the presence of several essential steps to ensure clinical success. This article proposes the adoption of an additional chain for in-hospital settings--a 'chain of prevention'--to assist hospitals in structuring their care processes to prevent and detect patient deterioration and cardiac arrest. The five rings of the chain represent 'staff education', 'monitoring', 'recognition', the 'call for help' and the 'response'. It is believed that a 'chain of prevention' has the potential to be understood well by hospital clinical staff of all grades, disciplines and specialties, patients, and their families and friends. The chain provides a structure for research to identify the importance of each of the various components of rapid response systems.
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