The role of patients and families in managing deteriorating patients 

11% of deaths in UK hospitals are the result of patient deterioration going unrecognised or not being acted on (NPSA, 2007), despite routine monitoring and escalation systems being in place.

Our research has identified that in some hospitals (mainly in the US) patients and relatives are invited to call a rapid response team (RRT) for help if they are concerned about deterioration. In a systematic review, we found only 9 studies describing or evaluating these interventions.

The studies found that patients and relatives rarely called for help relating to deterioration but they did call for help to address communication problems with ward staff. Activating a RRT for this purpose may not be a good use of resources. No study asked whether patients and relatives are able to recognise patient deterioration.

My PhD research, as part of the NIHR CLAHRC YH Evidence Based Transformation theme will explore how we can involve patients and relatives in detecting and managing deterioration in hospital.