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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 10-13

Evaluation of critical care outreach services in a tertiary care Hospital in India: A retrospective analysis

1 Department of Anaesthesiology and intensive care, Pushpanjali Crosslay Hospital, Vaishali, Gaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Anaesthesiology and intensive care, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, India
3 Department of Anaesthesiology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication3-Mar-2014

Correspondence Address:
Sandeep Sharma
Department of Anaesthesiology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2229-5151.128006

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Background: Critical care outreach services (CCOS) is a relatively a new concept in India and is not as developed as in Western countries. Efficient utilization of limited intensive care service requires comprehensive CCOS. Appropriate activation of such services will limit excess burden on already scarce human resources.
Aim: To evaluate the functioning of CCOS in a tertiary care hospital and also to identify factors leading to its overactivation.
Materials and Methods: Data of 400 calls received in resuscitation room (RR) of the Trauma Center during January 2011-June 2011 was analyzed. Categorical variables were summarized by calculating the frequency and percentage. Records of the department sending the call, purpose of the calls, and designation of the person sending the calls were noted. Calls were grouped into appropriate or inappropriate.
Results: Maximum calls were received from medicine wards (65.8%) followed by neurosurgery ward (12.5%). Of all, 26% of the calls were sent by senior doctors (senior resident), whereas 69.4% of the calls were sent by junior doctors. 66.2% of the calls were indicated for assessment and intensive care unit (ICU) transfer, whereas central venous/intravenous access constituted 14.8% of the calls. Intubation and ventilator settings constituted 7.3 and 7.8% calls, respectively. About one-third (36.2%) of all calls were inappropriate.
Conclusion : There is inefficient use of human resources in CCOS in our hospital. Lack of objective activation criteria and inefficient training in basic lifesaving skills and ventilator know-how were identified as primary factors for the same.

Keywords: Appropriate calls, critical care outreach services, early warning scores, human resource wastage

How to cite this article:
Srivastava N, Kaur MD, Sharma S. Evaluation of critical care outreach services in a tertiary care Hospital in India: A retrospective analysis. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci 2014;4:10-3

How to cite this URL:
Srivastava N, Kaur MD, Sharma S. Evaluation of critical care outreach services in a tertiary care Hospital in India: A retrospective analysis. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Mar 30];4:10-3. Available from: https://www.ijciis.org/text.asp?2014/4/1/10/128006

   Introduction Top

The idea of critical care outreach services (CCOS) variously named as medical emergency teams (METs) in Australia; Rapid Response Teams in North America was first conceived in 1990s and thus is not new. [1] Although there are some differences between these services, they all have the same primary aim of preventing critical illness with its associated morbidity and mortality. Abundant western literature is available on the subject, but the services are still at a nascent stage in India. The Institute of Health Care Improvement (IHI) "saving 100,000 lives campaign" has vigorously advocated the deployment of Rapid Response Team (RRT) as a means to identify patients with various illnesses, at risk for cardiac and respiratory arrest; thereby preventing subsequent hospital deaths. [2],[3] Because of resource limitation, the number of patients that can be monitored and treated in intensive care units (ICU) and high dependency units (HDUs) is restricted. The selection of the patients who might benefit from intensive care is therefore critical. [4] Several studies indicate that almost all critical inpatients events are preceded by warning signs for an average of 6-8 h. [5] Such warnings include change in vital sign (tachycardia, tachypnea, and hypotension), acute dyspnea, and change in level of consciousness. The Critical Care Response Team takes the skills and expertise of the critical care team beyond the walls of the ICU within minutes, to the bedside of deteriorating patients, whose condition may well progress to cardiac or respiratory arrest. This approach has been envisioned as "critical care without walls".

In our hospital, these services are headed by a qualified anesthesiologist along with a junior doctor from the Department of Anesthesia to provide bedside care to the critically ill patients in the entire hospital round the clock. These services are rendered through a resuscitation room housed in the trauma center attached to the hospital. Calls are received from the casualty and wards for various indications requiring evaluation, workup, and resuscitation of the inpatient. Record of these calls is maintained in the resuscitation room (RR). For efficient utilization of these services, it is required that only appropriate calls are received. Overactivation of these services puts strain on already limited human resources. It is often the breakdown of communication, poor teamwork, failure to appreciate clinical urgency, and lack of supervision that leads to failure to manage a patient as efficiently as desired. All of this constitutes human resource wastage. [6]

Thus, this single center retrospective observational study was planned to review CCOS in our thousand bedded tertiary care hospital, with the aim of identifying the factors leading to overactivation and further improvement of these services in our hospital.

   Materials and Methods Top

After Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval this single center, retrospective, observational study was conducted. Data of 400 calls received in RR of the Trauma Center during January 2011-June 2011 was analyzed. Data was entered into a Microsoft Excel program for data management and analyses. Categorical variables were summarized by calculating the frequency and percentage. Records of the department sending the call, purpose of the calls, and designation of the person sending the calls were noted. Doctors with post graduate degree in particular specialization were termed senior doctors. Doctors in training in the specialized field (post graduates (PGs), junior residents (JR), and interns) with only undergraduate degree were termed junior doctors for the purpose of analysis. Calls were grouped into appropriate or inappropriate. Calls where no specialized anesthesiologist intervention like intubation, invasive and noninvasive ventilatory changes, inotropic support, specialized monitoring, intravenous access, or transferring to ICU was done; were taken as inappropriate calls.

   Results Top

Single center retrospective observational study was conducted by collecting data of 400 calls recorded in the RR during 6 months period. Data was presented as mean (standard deviation (SD)) were normally distributed and as frequency (percentages). The mean age of the patients was 45.5 ± 18.45 years [Table 1]. 43.2% of the patients were female and 56.8% were male [Table 2]. Maximum calls were received from medicine wards (65.8%) followed by neurosurgery ward (12.5%), surgery wards (11.8%), and burns and plastics ward (7.5%) [Table 3] and [Figure 1]. Of all 26.5% of the calls were sent by senior doctors (senior resident), whereas 69.4% of the calls were sent by junior doctors (PGs, JR, and interns), and 4% calls were received from nurses [Table 4] and [Figure 2]. Most calls were indicated towards assessment and ICU transfer (66.2%), followed by central venous/intravenous line access (14.8%), intubation (7.3%), and ventilator settings (7.8%) [Table 5]. 36.2% of the calls were judged inappropriate according to the defined criteria [Table 6]. Surgery was the department with most number of inappropriate calls (44.6%) followed by medicine (38%) and burns and plastics (26.6%) [Table 7] and [Figure 3].
Figure 1: Distribution of departments sending the calls

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Figure 2: Designation of person sending the call

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Figure 3: Department wise destribution of appropriate calls

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Table 1: Age distribution

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Table 2: Sex distribution

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Table 3: Distribution of department sending the calls

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Table 4: Designation of person the sending calls

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Table 5: Indications of the calls

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Table 6: Appropriate and inappropriate calls

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Table 7: Department wise distribution of inappropriate calls

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   Discussion Top

Studies in US, [7] Canada, [8] Australia, [9] and UK [10] estimate that adverse events occur in 10% of the hospitalized patients with the mortality rate of 5-8%, [8],[9] half of which are preventable. [8] These countries have implemented various methods of working for the critically ill patients for bringing intensive care expertise to any acutely ill patient irrespective of location in the hospital, but in more organized way by team work. These teams are variably named as Rapid Response Team (RRT) in US, Medical Emergency Teams (MET) in Australia, Critical Care Response Team (CCRT) in Canada and Critical Care Outreach Team (CCOT) in UK. [11] Buist et al., reported a reduction in unexpected deaths in hospitals from 3.77 to 2.05 per 1,000 hospital admissions after implementation of MET and a decrease in cardiac arrests from 77 to 56%. [12] Bellomo et al., showed reductions in cardiac arrests of 65% (P = 0.001), deaths from cardiac arrest of 56% (P = 0.005), duration of ICU stay post arrest of 80% (P = 0.001), and inpatient deaths of 25% (P = 0.004). [13]

Rapid response system (RRS) has four essential components namely afferent limb, efferent limb, administrative limb, and quality improvement limb. An afferent limb consists of ward healthcare givers, who would recognize a deteriorating patient and activate the RRT. This component is critical as it links actual team with at-risk patient. In our hospital this limb is constituted by junior doctors (PGs, JR, and interns) and nurses most of the times, who fail to judge the urgency and validity of the call. Our result shows that more than half of the total calls (69.4%) received in RR are sent by junior doctors. Clinical evaluation by these young doctors cannot always be relied upon. This was one of the reasons for receiving a large number of inappropriate calls (36.2%) in our study. Other important reason was the lack of an objective parameter that would effectively activate RRS and thus reduce the number of false alarms. Modified Early Warning Scoring System (MEWS) has been shown to be useful and appropriate risk management tool for all the critically ill surgical inpatients. [14] Validity of MEWS in medical patients has also been well established. [8] MEWS is a simple physiological scoring system suitable for bedside application. Application of MEWS for emergency admissions is useful for triage, to identify patients at highest risk of deterioration. Appropriate intervention can thus be targeted in small number of patients. [4] A sizable portion of the calls was constituted by calls for venous access (14.8%) and basic ventilatory setup (7.8%). Burden of such calls can be reduced by basic training in such skills at the first place. This will withdraw some of the pressure on already overburdened RRS.

An efferent limb should have a team with ability and authority to prescribe medications, advanced airway management, and cardiac life support skills; and ability to provide ICU level of care at bedside. Our hospital has a senior doctor and a junior doctor on duty for attending all the calls in the hospital which is grossly inadequate for efficient functioning of the system, and thus critical review and improvement of the strategy is required to improve the functioning.

An administrative limb should oversee all the components and empowers the team to be able to function and provide needed resources. A quality improvement limb periodically reviews the functioning and provides feedback on team function.

   Conclusion Top

This study highlights the inefficient use of human resource in CCOS in our hospital. Lack of uniform protocols leads to increased work load for these services. Early warning scores probably can improve the identification of patients who truly requires ICU care and thus reduce the false activation of RRS. Teaching the ward healthcare personnel regarding basic lifesaving skills and ventilatory knowhow will go long way in reducing the unnecessary burden on the system.

   References Top

1.Cuthbertson BH. The Impact of critical care outreach: Is there one? Crit Care 2007;11:179.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Berwick DM, Calkins DR, McCannon CJ, Hackbarth AD. The 100,000 lives campaign: Setting a goal and a deadline for improving health care quality. JAMA 2006;295:324-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Institute of Health Care Improvement (IHI) 2006. How to guide pediatric supplement Rapid Response Team; http://www.ihi.org. Accessed on 2011 November 11.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Subbe CP, Kruger M, Rutherford P, Gemmel L. Validation of modified Early Warning Score in medical admissions. QJM 2001;94:521-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Al Qahtani S, Al-Dorzi HM. Rapid response system in acute hospital care. Ann Thorac Med 2010;5:1-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Amstrong M. (2006). A Handbook of Human Resource Management practice. (10 th edition) London, Philadelphia: Kogan Page.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Kohn LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS. To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Washington DC: National Academy of Press; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Baker GR, Norton PG, Flintoft V, Blais R, Brown A, Cox J. et al. The Canadian Adverse Event Study: The incident of adverse events among hospital patients in Canada. CMAJ 2004;170:1678-86.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Wilson RM, Runciman WB, Gibberd RW, Harrison BT, Newby L, Hamilton JD. The Quality in Australian Health Care Study. Med J Aust 1995;163:458-71.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.McQuillan P, Pilkington S, Allan A, Taylor B, Short A, Morgan G, et al. Confidential inquiry into quality of care before admission to intensive care. BMJ 1998;316:1853-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Devita MA, Bellomo R, Hillman K, Kellum J, Rotondi A, Teres D, et al. Findings of the first consensus conference on medical emergency teams. Crit Care Med 2006;34:2463-78.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Buist MD, Jarmolowski E, Burton PR, Bernard SA, Waxman BP, Anderson J. Recognising clinical instability in hospital patients before cardiac arrest or unplanned admission to intensive care. A pilot study in a tertiary-care hospital. Med J Aust 1999;171:22-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Bellomo R, Goldsmith D, Uchino S, Buckmaster J, Hart GK, Opdam H, et al. A prospective before-and-after trial of a medical emergency team. Med J Aust 2003;179:283-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Gardner-Thorpe J, Love N, Wrightson J, Walsh S, Keeling N. The value of Modified Early Warning Score (MEWS) in surgical in-patients: A prospective observational study. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 2006;88:571-5.  Back to cited text no. 14


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7]


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