Hospital rapid response team and patients with life-limiting illness: A multicentre retrospective cohort study Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: Approximately one-third of rapid response team consultations involve issues of end-of-life care. We postulate a greater occurrence in patients with a life-limiting illness, in whom the opportunity for advance care planning and palliative care involvement should be offered. Aims: We aim to review the characteristics and compare outcomes of rapid response team consultations on patients with and without a life-limiting illness. Design/Setting: A 3-month retrospective cohort study of all rapid response team consultations was conducted. The sample population included all adult inpatients in a major teaching hospital network. Results: We identified 351 patients – including 139 with a life-limiting illness – receiving a total of 456 rapid response team consultations. The median time from admission to the first rapid response team consultation was 3 days. Patients with a life-limiting illness had a significantly higher mortality rate (41.7% vs 13.2%), were older (72.6 vs 63.5 years), more likely to come from a residential aged-care facility (29.5% vs 4.1%) and had a shorter hospital stay (10 vs 13 days). Rapid response team consultations resulted in a change to more palliative goals of care in 28.5% of patients, of whom two-thirds had a life-limiting illness. Conclusion: Patients with a life-limiting illness had worse outcomes post–rapid response team consultation. Our findings suggest that a routine clarification of goals of care for this cohort, within 3 days of hospital admission, may be advantageous. These discussions may provide clarity of purpose to treating teams, reduce the burden of unnecessary interventions and promote patient-centred care agreed upon in advance of any deterioration.


publication date

  • 2015