News Release

December 23, 2005

Contact: Patrick S. Keefe, 860-679-2447

Health Center Forms Critical Care ‘Rapid Response’ Team

Proactive Medicine, Safety

FARMINGTON – The University of Connecticut Health Center joins hospitals across the country which have created a Rapid Response Team.

The Rapid Response Team is a group of clinicians who can rapidly bring assessment and management skills to the bedside of a patient whose condition may be deteriorating, and before he or she becomes unstable and requires emergency transfer to the intensive care unit or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Rapid response intervention can be activated by any member of the patient’s health care team in response to a defined set of physiologic abnormalities. Or at the request of a healthcare provider who believes the patient is approaching instability.

The team is made up of a critical care nurse practitioner, critical care nurse and a respiratory therapist.

“The Rapid Response Team is about responding to a spark – patient complaints, signs or symptoms of deterioration –before it becomes a forest fire – cardiac or respiratory arrest,” said Kathleen Coyne, R.N., Intensive Care Unit, team leader.

“Developing a rapid response team is the No. 1 priority of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement ‘Save 100,000 Lives Campaign,’ “ she said. “We’ve been considering the idea at the Health Center, and the IHI crusade brought the reality home. This is an important component in improving care and safety in our hospital.”

“In the few short weeks since it’s been in effect, the Rapid Response Team has proven itself to be a great innovation,” said Joseph Palmisano, M.D., professor of medicine, and medical director of the Intensive Care Unit. “The procedures and processes involved in creating the team have prompted a new way of thinking and reacting to patients who are becoming unstable. In the end, the team has quickened response, refined the delivery of care and improved patient outcomes,” he said.

Studies of rapid reaction teams suggest they are effective in achieving improved patient outcomes. Establishing the team was a highest priority for Dr. Steven Strongwater, director of clinical operations, and Ellen Leone, R.N., director of nursing.

The Rapid Response Team was initiated on the Medicine 4 and Surgery 7 floors. It now operates hospital-wide.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

Note: News professionals are invited to visit the UConn Health Today news page ( for regularly updated news and feature stories, photos and media stories. News releases are archived at UConn Health news and information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.