Inpatients may be at risk of cardiopulmonary instability during radiologic testing. Calling the medical emergency team is one rescue intervention that brings a team of critical care providers to the unstable patient. Little is known, however, about patients’ instability and activations of the medical emergency team in the radiology department (RD-MET).


To describe the cause of activation of the RD-MET for hospitalized patients, temporal attributes of RD-MET involvement, characteristics of RD-MET patients, and characteristics associated with good and poor outcomes after RD-MET activation.


Retrospective pilot study of RD-MET calls for 64 inpatients in a tertiary care hospital during 2009.


Reasons for RD-MET activation were 39% neurological, 38% cardiac, and 22% respiratory, and nearly half (42%) occurred during a computed tomography scan. Most RD-MET calls were made between 10 am and noon. RD-MET patients had a mean age of 61 (SD, 19) years; 52% were female, and 89% were white. Admitting diagnoses were most commonly neurological (20%), cardiovascular (16%), and abdominal (16%). The most common comorbid conditions were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (23%) and diabetes (20%). Half of RD-MET inpatients were from a general care unit, and 56% required preexisting oxygen support. After RD-MET involvement, 61% of patients required a higher level of care; 3% died during the MET intervention, and 19% died later in hospitalization. Patients with preexisting comorbid conditions were more likely to have poor outcomes after the RD-MET intervention (P = .001).


RD-MET patients with comorbid conditions, from a general care unit, and at risk for neurological deterioration arrive in the radiology department with potentially underestimated support needs. Greater support in specific time frames and locations may be warranted to improve outcomes.

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