A prospective before-and-after trial of a medical emergency team

Rinaldo Bellomo, Donna Goldsmith, Shigehiko Uchino, Jonathan Buckmaster, Graeme K Hart, Helen Opdam, William Silvester, Laurie Doolan and Geoffrey Gutteridge
Med J Aust 2003; 179 (6): 283-287.


Objective: To determine the effect on cardiac arrests and overall hospital mortality of an intensive care-based medical emergency team.

Design and setting: Prospective before-and-after trial in a tertiary referral hospital.

Patients: Consecutive patients admitted to hospital during a 4-month “before” period (May–August 1999) (n = 21 090) and a 4-month intervention period (November 2000 –February 2001) (n = 20 921).

Main outcome measures: Number of cardiac arrests, number of patients dying after cardiac arrest, number of postcardiac-arrest bed-days and overall number of in-hospital deaths.

Results: There were 63 cardiac arrests in the “before” period and 22 in the intervention period (relative risk reduction, RRR: 65%; P < 0.001). Thirty-seven deaths were attributed to cardiac arrests in the “before” period and 16 in the intervention period (RRR: 56%; P = 0.005). Survivors of cardiac arrest in the “before” period required 163 ICU bed-days versus 33 in the intervention period (RRR: 80%; P < 0.001), and 1353 hospital bed-days versus 159 in the intervention period (RRR: 88%; P < 0.001). There were 302 deaths in the “before” period and 222 in the intervention period (RRR: 26%; P = 0.004).

Conclusions: The incidence of in-hospital cardiac arrest and death following cardiac arrest, bed occupancy related to cardiac arrest, and overall in-hospital mortality decreased after introducing an intensive care-based medical emergency team.

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  • Rinaldo Bellomo1
  • Donna Goldsmith2
  • Shigehiko Uchino3
  • Jonathan Buckmaster4
  • Graeme K Hart5
  • Helen Opdam6
  • William Silvester7
  • Laurie Doolan8
  • Geoffrey Gutteridge9

  • Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre, Melbourne, VIC.



We thank our Medical Records Department for their assistance with this project. This study was funded by a grant from the Quality Improvement Branch of the Acute Health Care section of the Victorian Department of Human Services.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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