ALISO VIEJO, Calif., May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Clinical expertise is paramount to a rapid response team's effectiveness, but strong teamwork and good communication among its multidisciplinary members are critical for optimal patient safety, according to a study in the May issue of American Journal of Critical Care ( AJCC). Rapid response teams (RRTs) - also called medical emergency teams - are mobile groups of clinicians with critical care expertise that respond quickly to a bedside nurse's request for assistance with a patient whose condition might be worsening. The team typically includes a registered nurse, a respiratory therapist and a physician, who are each on call throughout their shift to respond within five minutes to RRT requests. RRTs are a common patient safety initiative to reduce adverse events and prevent avoidable deaths among hospitalized patients, but research into how RRTs function as a team has been limited. The study, titled " Rapid Response Teams: Qualitative Analysis of Their Effectiveness," documents elements related to team effectiveness from multiple perspectives within RRTs. By exploring team structure, organizational culture, expertise, communication and teamwork, research findings indicate that teamwork and communication were essential elements of a successful team. The study was led by nurse researchers Linda Searle Leach, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, CNL, assistant professor, School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles ( UCLA), and Ann M. Mayo, RN, DNSc, professor, Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, University of San Diego. They conducted in-depth interviews with individual RRT members and observed teams in action to collect data for their analysis. "Individual highly skilled clinicians need to be able to quickly come together as a team to provide optimum care to the patient at a critical point in their care," Leach said. "Team-based care delivery is not an optional approach in the quest to achieve safe and reliable care for every patient, every time - it is an imperative."