Developing and evaluating the success of a family activated medical emergency team: A quality improvement report

Patrick W. Brady*, Julie Zix, Richard Brilli, Derek S. Wheeler, Kristie Griffith, Mary Jo Giaccone, Kathy Dressman, Uma Kotagal, Stephen Muething, Ken Tegtmeyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background Family-activated medical emergency teams (MET) have the potential to improve the timely recognition of clinical deterioration and reduce preventable adverse events. Adoption of family-activated METs is hindered by concerns that the calls may substantially increase MET workload. We aimed to develop a reliable process for family activated METs and to evaluate its effect on MET call rate and subsequent transfer to the intensive care unit (ICU). Methods The setting was our free-standing children's hospital. We partnered with families to develop and test an educational intervention for clinicians and families, an informational poster in each patient room and a redesigned process with hospital operators who handle MET calls. We tracked our primary outcome of count of familyactivated MET calls on a statistical process control chart. Additionally, we determined the association between family-activated versus clinician-activated MET and transfer to the ICU. Finally, we compared the reason for MET activation between family calls and a 2:1 matched sample of clinician calls. Results Over our 6-year study period, we had a total of 83 family-activated MET calls. Families made an average of 1.2 calls per month, which represented 2.9% of all MET calls. Children with family-activated METs were transferred to the ICU less commonly than those with clinician MET calls (24% vs 60%, p<0.001). Families, like clinicians, most commonly called MET for concerns of clinical deterioration. Families also identified lack of response from clinicians and a dismissive interaction between team and family as reasons. Conclusions Family MET activations were uncommon and not a burden on responders. These calls recognised clinical deterioration and communication failures. Family activated METs should be tested and implemented in hospitals that care for children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-211
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Quality and Safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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