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Open Access Research

Medical emergency teams are associated with reduced mortality across a major metropolitan health network after two years service: a retrospective study using government administrative data

Antony E Tobin* and John D Santamaria

Author Affiliations

Intensive Care Unit, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, PO Box 2900, Fitzroy 3065, Victoria, Australia

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Critical Care 2012, 16:R210  doi:10.1186/cc11843

Published: 29 October 2012

Abstract

Introduction

Medical emergency teams (MET) are implemented to ensure prompt clinical review of patients with deteriorating physiology with the intention of averting further deterioration, cardiac arrest and death. We sought to determine if MET implementation has led to reductions in hospital mortality across a large metropolitan health network utilising routine administrative data submitted by hospitals to the Department of Health Victoria.

Methods

The Victorian admissions episodes data set (VAED) contains data on all individual hospital separations in the State of Victoria, Australia. After gaining institutional ethics approval, we extracted data on all acute admissions to metropolitan hospitals for which we had information on the presence and timing of a MET system. Using logistic regression we determined whether there was an effect of MET implementation on mortality controlling for age, gender, Charlson comorbidity diagnostic groupings, emergency admission, same day admission, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, year, indigenous ethnicity, liaison nurse service and hospital designation.

Results

5911533 individual admissions and 73,599 associated deaths from July 1999 to June 2010 were included in the analysis. 52.2% were male and median age was 57(42-72 IQR). Mortality rates for MET and non-MET periods were 3.92 (3.88-3.95 95%CI) and 4.56 (4.51-4.61 95%CI) deaths per 1000 patient days with a rate ratio after adjustment for year of 0.88 (0.86-0.89 95%CI) P < 0.001. In a multivariable logistic regression, mortality was associated with a MET team being active in the hospital for more than 2 years. The odds ratio for mortality in hospitals where a MET system had been in place for greater than 4 years duration was 0.90 (0.88-0.92). Mortality during the first 2 years of a MET system being in place was not statistically different from pre-MET periods.

Conclusions

Utilising routinely collected administrative data we demonstrated that the presence of a hospital MET system for greater than 2 years was associated with an independent reduction in hospital mortality across a major metropolitan health network. Mortality benefits after the introduction of a MET system take time to become apparent.