Background: Rapid Response Teams (RRT) are a critical care resource that reviews deteriorating patients within the hospital. Whilst contemporary literature has focused on outcomes of RRTs, little is known about the detailed perioperative course and characteristics of patients who require RRT activation after major hip surgery. We aimed to describe demographic, preoperative, surgical, anesthetic and postoperative characteristics of patients who required RRT activation after major hip surgery. We also sought to assess if these characteristics affected mortality during the index hospital admission.
Methods: We reviewed a RRT database of adult patients undergoing orthopedic surgery at a university teaching hospital. We then retrospectively reviewed the medical records to extract a priori defined patient, preoperative, surgical, anesthetic and postoperative data of major hip surgery admissions between September 2014 and December 2017. Patients who survived the index hospital stay were compared to those who died.
Results: Overall, 187 patients had a postoperative RRT activations. Mean (SD) age was 82.1 (11.6) years; 125 (67%) were female and most patients had at least one significant comorbidity: mean (SD) Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) of 5.6 (2.1). The majority of patients (68%) were frail, ASA class 3 or greater (91%) and underwent non-elective surgery (88%). Median (IQR) time from surgery to RRT activation was 29.4 hours (11.3:75.0), and 25 (13%) patients had unplanned admissions to ICU/HDU. Compared to patients who survived RRT activation, those who died displayed higher CCI [6.5 (1.8) vs. 5.5 (2.1); p=0.02], were more frail (80.1% vs. 56.5%; odds ratio 3.2; 95%CI: 1.2 to 8.1; p=0.03) and received less intraoperative opioids [median (IQR) intravenous morphine equi-analgesia 5.8 (0.1:8.2) mg vs. 11.7 (3.7:19.0) mg; p=0.03]. They were also more likely to receive an urgent medical review prior to RRT activation (62% vs 40%; odds ratio 2.4; 95%CI: 1.1 to 5.6; p=0.05).
Conclusions: Death after RRT activation occurred in 1 out of 7 patients undergoing major hip surgery. Common patient characteristics included advanced age (>82 years), frailty, high CCI and emergency surgery. Further studies investigating perioperative surveillance teams in the identification of the high-risk patients before surgery, and deteriorating patients after major hip surgery, are warranted.