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Strengthening the afferent limb of rapid response systems: an educational intervention using web-based learning for early recognition and responding to deteriorating patients


Background The timely recognition and response to patients with clinical deteriorations constitute the afferent limb failure of a rapid response system (RRS). This area is a persistent problem in acute healthcare settings worldwide. In this study, we evaluated the effect of an educational programme on improving the nurses’ knowledge and performances in recognising and responding to clinical deterioration.

Method The interactive web-based programme addressed three areas: (1) early detection of changes in vital signs; (2) performance of nursing assessment and interventions using airway, breathing, circulation, disability and expose/examine and (3) reporting clinical deterioration using identity, situation, background, assessment and recommendation. Sixty-seven registered nurses participated in the randomised control study. The experimental group underwent a 3 h programme while the control group received no intervention. Pretests and post-tests, a mannequin-based assessment and a multiple-choice knowledge questionnaire were conducted. We evaluated the participants’ performances in assessing, managing and reporting the deterioration of a patient using a validated performance tool.

Results A significantly higher number of nurses from the experimental group than the control group monitored respiratory rates (48.2% vs 25%, p<0.05) and pulse rates (74.3% vs 37.5%, p<0.01) in the simulated environment, after the intervention. The post-test mean scores of the experimental group was significantly higher than the control group for knowledge (21.29 vs 18.28, p<0.001), performance in assessing and managing clinical deterioration (25.83 vs 19.50, p<0.001) and reporting clinical deterioration (12.83 vs 10.97, p<0.001).

Conclusions A web-based educational programme developed for hospital nurses to strengthen the afferent limb of the RRS significantly increased their knowledge and performances in assessing, managing and reporting clinical deterioration.

  • Adverse events, epidemiology and detection
  • Continuing education, continuing professional development
  • Nurses
  • Simulation

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