Aims and objectives. The aim of this literature review is to identify factors, both positive and negative, that impact on nurses’ effective use of the Medical Emergency Team (MET) in acute care settings.
Background. Outcomes for patients are often dependent on nurses’ ability to identify and respond to signs of increasing illness and initiate medical intervention. In an attempt to improve patient outcomes, many acute hospitals have implemented a rapid response system known as the Medical Emergency Team (MET) which has improved management of critically ill ward patients. Subsequent research has indicated that the MET system continues to be underused by nurses.
Design. A comprehensive thematic literature review.
Methods. The review was undertaken using key words and the electronic databases of Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), OVID/MEDLINE, Blackwell Synergy, Science Direct and Informit. Fifteen primary research reports were relevant and included in the review.
Results. Five major themes emerged from the analysis of the literature as the major factors effecting nurses’ use of the MET system. They were: education on the MET, expertise, support by medical and nursing staff, nurses’ familiarity with and advocacy for the patient and nurses’ workload.
Conclusions. Ongoing education on all aspects of the MET system is recommended for nursing, medical and MET staff. Bringing MET education into undergraduate programs to prepare new graduates entering the workforce to care for acutely ill patients is also strongly recommended. Further research is also needed to determine other influences on MET activation.
Relevance to clinical practice. Strategies that will assist nurses to use the MET system more effectively include recruitment and retention of adequate numbers of permanent skilled staff thereby increasing familiarity with and advocacy for the patient. Junior doctors and nurses should be encouraged to attend ward MET calls to gain skills in management of acutely ill patients.