4. Hunt for Patterns

“To understand is to perceive patterns.”

Isaiah Berlin, political philosopher

In our research on Rapid Response Teams, we spoke with many nurses. We asked them to explain how they recognized the early warning signs of a patient headed for distress. In short, we wanted to know how they became effective problem-finders. Did it simply involve continuous monitoring of vital signs, with calls for assistance initiated when key metrics moved outside acceptable ranges? Time and time again, we heard that highly experienced nurses spotted trouble before the patient’s vital signs became abnormal. In one hospital, we heard that more than 20% of recent Rapid Response Team calls originated with a nurse who requested assistance because ...

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