Track and trigger systems are formal processes that rely on periodic measurement of observations (tracking), with predetermined action when certain thresholds are reached (triggering). There are many different track and trigger systems in use nationally and internationally. These vary in the parameters that are included, and in the level of abnormality and the number of levels of abnormality that trigger responses. Single parameter, single response systems triggering a rapid response are common in Australia. Aggregate weighted scoring systems that trigger graded responses (ranging from increased surveillance to a rapid response) are common in the United Kingdom. Combination systems that incorporate both single parameter triggers and aggregate scores are also in common use internationally.

While there is not yet sufficient robust evidence for ACSQHC to make a recommendation about the type of track and trigger system to use, there is increasing evidence that patients who meet rapid response calling criteria in single response systems have high rates of mortality and morbidity. The Commission recommends the use of a graded response system.

A background paper summarising the use of observation charts and track and trigger systems to identify clinical deterioration (PDf 978KB) is available for download.