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Prevention of Serious Adverse Events in Acute Care Hospitals by Afferent Limb and Response Method Intervention - the ALARM Intervention Study.

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Last updated:17th Sep 2013
Growing evidence suggests that a significant proportion of in-hospital patient deaths occur after serious adverse events (SAE's). Concerns have been raised that too often patients' acute deteriorations, particularly on surgical and medical wards outside critical care settings, are identified too late and corrective actions taken too slowly. Many initiatives have been taken to prevent unexpected death by timely recognition, intervention and resuscitation efforts such as Rapid Response Systems (RRS's). RRS's have been introduced with the intention to prevent SAE's and to improve patient outcome by facilitating early detection of warning signs for clinical deterioration. These systems have four components (1) an afferent limb for detection and response triggering, (2) an efferent limb with medical or nursing response to prevent deterioration (3) a process improvement limb and (4) a governance and administrative structure. It remains uncertain which elements of RRS's contribute most to patient outcomes such as unplanned (re-) admission to the intensive care unit, shock, cardiac arrest and unexpected death. In addition, previous studies found that nurse observation, assessment and communication (afferent limb) are crucial to achieve better patient outcomes, but how to achieve afferent limb sustainability in hospitals is not clear. A previous study investigated 23 hospitals in Flanders (Belgium) about how nurses observe, assess, detect and communicate deteriorating and critical patients in surgical, medical and geriatric wards. Wide variation between hospitals was identified about critical patient intervention procedures, strategies and Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) orders as well as between nurses about the use and knowledge of critical vital signs and call criteria for physician clinical advice and support. Nurses of hospitals with structured observation and communication protocols were better informed and perceived their communication and collaboration with physicians more favorable in compared to other hospitals. Based on these results conclusions and recommendations for further initiatives were formulated. The proposed Afferent Limb and Response Method intervention study will implement these recommendations guided by a robust scientific research approach to offer evidence to the nursing and medical practice community. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of the Afferent Limb Ascertainment and Response Method intervention or ALARM intervention in medical and surgical nursing wards of acute care hospitals on the prevention of SAE's such as in-hospital unexpected death, unplanned ICU-admission and cardiac arrest. Study hypothesis: Optimizing and supporting the process of observation, use and interpretation of vital signs, detection, assessment, escalation and communication with a higher level of care in deteriorating patients can prevent serious adverse events (in-hospital unexpected death, unplanned ICU admission and cardiac arrest) in acute care hospitals.
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Study start date 2013-09-17

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