University of Technology Sydney

96315 Recognising and Responding to Acute Deterioration

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject is designed to enhance the students’ knowledge and understanding, of how to promptly recognise and appropriately escalate and manage a patient's acute deterioration in physiological, cognitive, and/or mental state, to improve patient safety and outcomes. A particular emphasis is placed on the importance of using a person-centred approach, when caring for acutely ill patients and their significant others.

The subject aims to strengthen students’ ability to critique how organisation-wide systems and processes can support and promote, detection, recognition and management, of acute patient deterioration. Students will consider the roles and accountability of the nurse in leading, communicating and collaborating with the interdisciplinary team, to enable/facilitate rapid patient assessment and response.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Evaluate how a patient's acute deterioration in physiological, cognitive, and/or mental state, is recognised promptly, and escalated appropriately.  
B. Critically compare current systems, technology and processes that are used to support and promote detection and recognition of acute deterioration. 
C. Examine the role and accountability of the nurse in leading effective communication and collaboration with the interdisciplinary team, distressed and/or vulnerable patients, families and significant others using a person-centred approach to care.
D. Analyse the importance of self-care, personal and team well-being when working in complex and stressful situations.
E. Explore appropriate activation of Rapid Response Systems for patients for whom resuscitation measures cannot achieve acceptable outcomes or preserve dignity. 

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Identify, synthesise, evaluate and apply the best available evidence for translation into practice to achieve optimal health outcomes (1.1)
  • Demonstrate comprehensive clinical judgement and clinical reasoning that is based on evidence and reflects relevant professional codes and guidelines (1.2)
  • Demonstrates ability to collaborate and influence evidence-based change and transformation for achieving optimal health care outcomes (2.2)
  • Synthesise evidence-based principles of quality and safety to achieve optimal health outcomes (3.2)
  • Consistently adopt a respectful, empathic and person-centred approach that engages and empowers health care consumers and families/significant others (4.1)
  • Demonstrate compassionate, empathic, ethical and collaborative clinical practice (5.2)
  • Practise and promote the principles of self-care that build resilience and support personal and team wellbeing (5.3)
  • Critically reflect on Indigenous Australian contexts to inform professional cultural capability to work effectively with and for, Indigenous Australians within the health and social care profession (6.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

Orientation activities
Preparation for the session - You are expected to undertake activities during orientation week. These activities are designed to introduce you to the subject and your peers, and will assist you to prepare for the subject's assessment tasks.

Independent learning activities
Relevant readings, videos and activities will be made available online relevant to the topic of the week. This will support your ability to progress successfully throughout the subject and complete assessment items effectively. The online material aims to enhance your understanding of the topic or delve deeper into a more specific area, compare experiences and ideas with others and gain feedback. Information and links to all these learning activities can be accessed via Canvas as well as the subject outline.

Zoom meetings
You are strongly encouraged to attend all scheduled Zoom meetings as they will prepare you for the subject’s assessment tasks. Additionally, they provide opportunities for group activities, discussion, self-assessment, peer review and formative feedback from the subject coordinator and your teaching team. The schedule for this subject’s zoom meetings is below in the program section.

Feedback in this subject takes several forms including self-assessment, peer review, automatic feedback from interactive activities and from the teaching team. Formative feedback throughout the subject aims to increase your performance in summative assessments.

Feedback and changes from previous subject offering

Feedback from the previous offering was positive and subject has been revised to align more with the subject learning objectives. Several resources and readings have been updated and/or refined to maintain subject quality, accuracy and relevance.


Assessment task 1: Quiz


This assessment task (2 online quizzes) is designed to enable you to demonstrate your understanding of the systematic approach to assessment of the patient and to demonstrate the importance of the clinician in recognising deterioration, escalating care and ensuring the patient receives an appropriate response to their deterioration.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A and C

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.1, 1.2, 5.2 and 6.1

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

2 x online multiple choice and short answer quizzes.

Assessment task 2: Cause and Effect Case Study Analysis


In this assessment you will demonstrate an understanding of the systems issues and human factors that may have contributed to an adverse event.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B and D

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.1, 2.2, 3.2 and 4.1

Type: Case study
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

1800 words +/- 10%


Examples?of Cause and Effect diagrams and a template will be provided in Canvas along with the marking rubric for this assessment.

Assessment task 3: Work-based assessment


You will use the case study provided in assessment 2 as a basis to compare, contrast and critically appraise aspects of recognition and response to the deteriorating patient in their own healthcare service.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, D and E

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.1, 2.2, 3.2, 4.1 and 5.3

Type: Case study
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

2000 words

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10

Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/ information refer to the Faculty of Health website ( and Canvas at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666.

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733.

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.

The Accessibility and Financial Assistance Service
The Accessibility Service can support students with disabilities, medical or mental health conditions, including temporary injuries (e.g., broken limbs). The Accessibility Service works with Academic Liaison Officers in each Faculty to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as exam provisions, assistive technology, requests and strategies for managing your studies alongside your health condition. If you’re unsure whether you need assistance, we recommend getting in touch early and we can provide advice on how our service can assist you. Make an appointment with an Accessibility Consultant (AC) on +61 2 9514 1177 or

The Financial Assistance Service can assist you with financial aspects of life at university, including Centrelink information, tax returns and budgeting, interest-free student loans and grants to assist with course-related costs. Check eligibility and apply online and make an appointment on +61 2 9514 1177 or