BACKGROUND: Despite international standards for recognition and response to deterioration, warning signs are not always identified by staff on acute hospital wards. Patient and family-initiated escalation of care schemes have shown some benefit in assisting early recognition, but are not widely used in many clinical practice areas.
OBJECTIVES: To explore (a) patients' and relatives' experiences of acute deterioration and (b) patients', relatives' and healthcare professionals' perceptions of the barriers or facilitators to patient and family-initiated escalation of care in acute adult hospital wards.
METHODS: We conducted a qualitative review using Cochrane methodology. Two reviewers independently screened studies, extracted data, and appraised the quality using a qualitative critical appraisal tool. Findings were analysed using thematic synthesis and confidence in findings was assessed using GRADE-CERQual.
SEARCH STRATEGY: MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsychINFO databases and grey literature from 2005 to August 2019.
INCLUSION CRITERIA: Any research design that had a qualitative element and focused on adult patients' and relatives' experiences of deterioration and perceptions of escalating care.
RESULTS: We included five studies representing 120 participants and assessed the certainty of evidence as moderate using GRADE-CERQual. Findings indicated that a number of patients/relatives have the ability to detect acute deterioration, however, various factors act as both barriers and facilitators to being heard. These include personal factors, perceptions of role, quality of relationships with healthcare staff, and organisational factors. Theoretical understanding suggests that patient and relative involvement in escalation is dependent on both inherent capabilities and the factors that influence empowerment.
CONCLUSION: This review highlights that patient and family escalation of care interventions need to be designed with the aim of improving patient/relative-clinician collaboration and the sharing of responsibility.
RELEVANCE TO PRACTICE: These factors need to be addressed to promote more active partnerships when designing and implementing patient and family-initiated escalation of care interventions.
- Clinical deterioration, family, hospitals, patients, nurses/nursing, perception, Rapid Response Team, early warning, family activation, patient and family escalation of care, patient advocate.