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Reducing failure to rescue rates in a paediatric in-patient setting: A 9-year quality improvement study

PIPSQC is pleased to highlight the recent publication in Nursing in Critical Care, entitled "Reducing failure to rescue rates in a paediatric in-patient setting: A 9-year quality improvement study."

The publication is available online at:


Annually in England, over 1.5 million children and young people (CYP) are admitted to hospital. However, a proportion of these CYP will experience failure to rescue (FtR), a failure to recognize, respond and escalate clinical deterioration, which can result in significant harm or death.

To identify and quantify FtR episodes from emergency events at a 110-bedded tertiary children's hospital located within a University Teaching Hospital and evaluate the impact of targeted interventions on reducing FtR.

A quality improvement approach was adopted. From 170 446 patients admitted between 2011 and 2019, all emergency event calls were systematically reviewed to identify FtR episodes. Root-cause analysis was performed to identify practice deficiencies. The Plan-Do-Study-Act fundamentals were used.

A total of 520 emergency events were reviewed over the 9-year period. One hundred and thirty-two (n = 132; 25%) were cardiac arrest events, with the majority occurring within the PCCU setting. Three hundred and twelve (60%) of the events were in children who had been inpatient for more than 48 hours. FtR trend declined over the study period from 23.6% in 2011 when the project commenced to 2.5% or less over the following 8 years.

Identifying rates of FtR events from routinely collected emergency events data can be used as a patient safety measure to identify emergency concerns. This enables dynamic problem solving through delivery of strategic and targeted interventions. The proposed interventions outlined in this quality improvement study have application to critical care nursing as mechanisms for reducing unplanned admissions to paediatric critical care unit (PCCU), patient mortality, and PCCU and non-PCCU cardiac arrests.