Pediatric Rapid Response System

The Pediatric Rapid Response System (PRRS) aims to decrease pediatric cardiac arrests at N.C. Children’s Hospital. Tina Willis, MD led the development of PRRS with Celeste Mayer, PhD, patient safety officer for UNC Hospitals. The program started on August 1, 2005 and was the first of its kind in North Carolina, and one of the first nationwide. Now under the leadership of Cherissa Hanson, MD, the PRRS continues to save lives by preventing cardiac arrests through earlier medical intervention.

PRRS Poster

Studies show that only 27% of pediatric patients survive to discharge after cardiac arrest. The PRRS was put in place to help providers recognize the early warning signs of a cardiac arrest and resolve the problem before an arrest occurs. The Team, comprised of a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) Fellow MD Team Leader, a PICU Charge Nurse, a PICU Respiratory Therapist, a Senior Pediatric Resident, and the patient's primary team, can be activated anytime a family member or medical provider expresses concern about a patient’s condition. An overhead call activates the Pediatric Rapid Response Team (PRRT) who arrives to treat the patient within minutes.

N.C. Children’s Hospital staff reviewed the first year of data and found that “family concern” was one of the reasons for activation in 20% of the calls. More than half of the patients in those calls required transfer to the intensive care unit. As a result of that finding, N.C. Children’s Hospital created the Family Alert Initiative, which empowers family members to activate the Pediatric Rapid Response Team themselves.

In May 2007, N.C. Children's Hospital was honored by the National Patient Safety Foundation with its Socius Award. The Socius Award is given in recognition of work that promotes positive and effective partnering between patients/families and providers in pursuit of improved patient safety.

Planetree, a nonprofit membership organization that works with hospitals and health care centers to develop and implement patient-centered care in healing environments, nominated the Family Alert Initiative for the award.

“The Family Alert Initiative is a partnership that recognizes the importance of engaging families in patient safety. N.C. Children’s Hospital’s focus on not only implementing the program, but studying the program and demonstrating the power of that partnership through analysis of the data and a pre and post survey of family members, will also help guide other hospitals in their efforts to successfully partner with patients to improve safety,” wrote Carrie Brady, a quality and designation policy strategist for Planetree, in her nomination letter.


  • Nearly fourfold reduction in cardiac arrests at N.C. Children's Hospital (since August 2005, patient days between cardiac arrests rose from 2512 to 9418)


For more information about the Pediatric Rapid Response System at N.C. Children's Hospital, please visit our Dashboard, FAQs, Toolkit, and Related Links pages. For additional questions, contact Cherissa Hanson, MD.