Rapid response teams generally consist of multidisciplinary specialist staff members with advanced knowledge and skills to manage deteriorating patients outside of the intensive care unit. These teams consist predominantly of intensive care unit nurses, who often undertake intensive care unit and rapid response team duties concurrently. Little has been published on the impact of these nurses’ absence while attending a rapid response call on the nursing workforce, patient care, and resource allocation in the intensive care unit.


To explore the impact of nurses’ absence due to attending rapid response calls in other areas of the hospital on service delivery and resource allocation in the intensive care unit.


A comprehensive search of 3 databases was performed to identify studies on relationships among the rapid response team, the intensive care unit, and nursing staff.


The search yielded 6 quantitative studies, 2 qualitative studies, and a mixed-methods study that were included for analysis. Four key themes were identified: (1) workforce, staffing processes, and resource allocation; (2) alterations to workload and resource allocation; (3) adverse events or incidents; and (4) funding variability of rapid response team models. Review of the studies indicated that dual intensive care unit and rapid response team nursing roles have negative effects on nurses’ workload, increase the risk of adverse events, and may compromise patient safety.


The staffing of both the intensive care unit and the rapid response team should be examined carefully with an eye toward sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and clear outcome measures.

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