Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of a medical emergency team activated using 24-hour monitoring by electronic medical record-based screening criteria followed by immediate intervention by a skilled team.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: Academic tertiary care hospital with approximately 2,700 beds.
Patients: A total of 3,030 events activated by a medical emergency team from March 1, 2008, to February 28, 2010.
Measurements and main results: We collected data for all medical emergency team activations: patient characteristics, trigger type for medical emergency team (electronic medical record-based screening vs calling criteria), interventions during each event, outcomes of the medical emergency team intervention, and 28-day mortality after medical emergency team activation. We analyzed data for 2009, when the medical emergency team functioned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (period 2), compared with that for 2008, when the medical emergency team functioned 12 hours a day, 7 days a week (period 1). The commonest cause of medical emergency team activation was respiratory distress (43.6%), and the medical emergency team performed early goal-directed therapy (21.3%), respiratory care (19.9%), and difficult airway management (12.3%). For patients on general wards, 51.3% (period 1) and 38.4% (period 2) of medical emergency team activations were triggered by the electronic medical record-based screening system (electronic medical record-triggered group). In 23.4%, activation occurred because of an abnormality in laboratory screening criteria. The commonest activation criterion from electronic medical record-based screening was respiratory rate (39.4%). Over half the patients were treated in the general ward, and one third of the patients were transferred to the ICU. The electronic medical record-triggered group had lower ICU admission with an odds ratio of 0.35 (95% CI, 0.22-0.55). In surgical patients, the electronic medical record-triggered group showed the lower 28-day mortality (10.5%) compared with the call-triggered group (26.7%) or the double-triggered group (33.3%) (odds ratio 0.365 with 95% CI, 0.154-0.867, p = 0.022).
Conclusions: We successful managed the medical emergency team with electronic medical record-based screening criteria and a skilled intervention team. The electronic medical record-triggered group had lower ICU admission than the call-triggered group or the double-triggered group. In surgical patients, the electronic medical record-triggered group showed better outcome than other groups.