Rapid Response Team Vs. Code Blue Team


Angela is reviewing nursing concepts for her exam due next week. For tonight, she’s reading about emergencies, however, she’s experiencing a bit difficulty in trying to differentiate rapid response from code blue. “Hmm, these two concepts seem very alike and confusing, how will I ever know which one is which?” she asks herself as she reads on, hoping to get some enlightenment about the topic.

Which is which

Rapid response teams (RRTs) are also known as a medical emergency teams or medical response teams and were established to promote rapid assessment and treatment of patients whose clinical condition was declining but who were not yet in shock or cardiac arrest. Basically, they depend on nurses from the ICU to act as clinical experts at the bedside to evaluate a patient’s deteriorating condition.

The main purpose of the RRT is to prevent deaths outside the intensive care unit (ICU) by providing a resource team that can be called to a patient’s bedside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are also expected to nurture collaboration between critical care nurses and medical-surgical nurses in the care of patients through assessment, communication, immediate interventions, support, and education. Furthermore, the team may be composedof different structured groups including the physician and nurse, intensivist and respiratory therapist, physician assistant alone, critical care nurse and respiratory therapist, or clinical specialist alone

Code blue is an emergency situation broadcasted in a hospital or institution in which a patient is in cardiopulmonary arrest, requiring a team of providers (called a ‘code team’) to rush to the specific location and begin instantaneous resuscitative efforts.

The code team is defined as a specially trained and equipped team of physicians, nurses, and technicians that is available to provide advanced cardiac life support when called by an emergency code set by the institution. It usually includes a physician, registered nurse, respiratory therapist, and pharmacist.

Advanced Cardiac Life Support is provided by the Code Team and is continued until:

  • Effective spontaneous circulation and ventilation is restored as determined by the team captain
  • The physician makes the decision to terminate resuscitative efforts based on the evaluation of the cerebral and cardiovascular status of the patient.


Discerning rapid response from code blue

To make things simpler and much easier, the rapid response team responds to URGENT situations which may include urgent changes in the patient’s clinical status such as the respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure, mental status, and oxygen saturation. Also, changes in significant laboratory values such as sodium, glucose, and potassium levels could also be early indicators of a patient’s deteriorating status.

On the other hand, the code blue team responds to EMERGENT situations such as cardiopulmonary arrest.



Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

What Do You Think?