J Clin Nurs. 2023 Mar 9. doi: 10.1111/jocn.16678. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Although progress has been made in identifying and responding to acutely deteriorating ward patients, judgements about the level of care required for patients after medical emergency team review are complex, rarely including a formal assessment of illness severity. This challenges staff and resource management practices and patient safety.
OBJECTIVE: This study sought to quantify the illness severity of ward patients after medical emergency team review.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND SETTING: This retrospective cohort study examined the clinical records of 1500 randomly sampled adult ward patients following medical emergency team review at a metropolitan tertiary hospital. Outcome measures were the derivation of patient acuity and dependency scores using sequential organ failure assessment and nursing activities score instruments. Findings are reported using the STROBE guideline for cohort studies.
NO PATIENT OR PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: No direct patient contact was made during the data collection and analysis phases of the study.
RESULTS: Patients were male (52.6%), unplanned (73.9%) medical admissions (57.5%), median age of 67 years. The median sequential organ failure assessment score was 4% and 20% of patients demonstrated multiple organ system failure requiring non typical monitoring and coordination arrangements for at least 24 h. The median nursing activities score was 86% suggestive of a near 1:1 nurse-to-patient ratio. More than half of all patients required enhanced levels of assistance with mobilization (58.8%) and hygiene (53.9%) activities.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients who remain on the ward following medical emergency team review had complex combinations of organ dysfunction, with levels of dependency similar to those found in intensive care units. This has implications for ward and patient safety and continuity of care arrangements.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Profiling illness severity at the conclusion of the medical emergency team review may help determine the need for special resource and staffing arrangements or placement within the ward environment.