Background: Medical emergency teams were introduced in Australia in 1996 however, evidence indicated deteriorating patients continued to be under-reported to them. Socio-cultural, behavioural and workforce barriers to medical emergency team calls have been identified but their impact, where these teams have operated for many years, has not been investigated.
Aim: To explore metropolitan and regional nurses’ and midwives’ experiences prior to, during and after medical emergency team calls in settings where these teams have operated for at least five years.
Methods: Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from nurses and midwives from eight metropolitan and regional Australian hospitals. Participants were invited to respond to a 29-item survey instrument specifically designed for this study. Descriptive statistics were undertaken; augmented by respondents’ comments.
Results: The 121 responses (73 metropolitan; 48 regional) were analysed. Previously identified barriers such as unsupportive health professionals, acuity of other patients, ward busyness and individual workload were not perceived as detractors from call activation. Workload, however, impacted on care of other patients with support wanted during medical emergency team calls (especially by regional staff co-opted into the teams). Debriefing following difficult medical emergency team calls was also sought.
Discussion: Differences between metropolitan and regional settings related primarily to staffing issues. Medical emergency teams in metropolitan settings largely consisted of critical care staff, whereas regional teams were limited to available staff.
Conclusion: Overall, barriers to medical emergency team calls appeared markedly decreased compared to results in earlier studies. However, further research on events during and after medical emergency team calls and regular advanced life support training of regional staff was recommended.
- Medical emergency team
- Metropolitan and regional hospitals
- Patient deterioration