Attitudes and barriers to a Medical Emergency Team system at a tertiary paediatric hospital

Resuscitation. 2011 Feb;82(2):167-74. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2010.10.013. Epub 2010 Nov 23.


Aim: To determine the attitudes and barriers to an established paediatric Medical Emergency Team (MET) system among nurses and doctors.

Methods: Invitation to all clinical staff in a paediatric hospital to complete an electronic 41-item branched survey. Responses were graded on a Likert scale.

Results: 407 staff completed the survey (280 nurses, 127 doctors). The MET system was highly valued for obtaining urgent assistance for the seriously ill patients by 85% of nurses and 83% of doctors. However, barriers to MET activation included; preference to contact the covering (attending) doctors by 80% of nurses and 45% of doctors, active discouragement to activating a MET by 41% of nurses and 12% of doctors, and fear of criticism by 17% of nurses and 9% of doctors if the patient was not deemed seriously ill by the MET attendees. Less experienced staff were significantly more likely to report barriers to calling a MET. Negative attitudes from MET attendees were reported by nurses (24%) and doctors (6.5%). Failure to recognize serious illness was revealed by unwillingness of 47% of doctors and 32% of nurses to activate MET when activation criteria were attained and by retrospective realization by 30% of doctors and 15% of nurses that they had failed to activate MET when needed.

Conclusions: Cultural and behavioral barriers to MET activation and inability to recognize serious illness may explain in part the failure of a MET system to completely eliminate unexpected cardiac arrest and death. Unless these issues are addressed, the full benefits of a MET system may not be realised.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff, Hospital*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital*
  • Retrospective Studies