This article, originally posted on Sept. 23, 2019, was updated on Feb. 18, 2022, to reflect current data.

    Please note that these statistics aren’t updated regularly. Always check with your state’s hospital associations for the most up-to-date information.

    Hospitals often use color codes to alert staff to an emergency or another significant event. These emergency codes allow trained hospital personnel to respond quickly and appropriately to various incidents.

    Hospital emergency codes have often varied widely by location — even within hospitals in the exact same community. This potential for confusion has led many states to adopt standardized codes for all hospitals.

    In 2000, the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) released a handbook, “ Healthcare Emergency Codes: A Guide for Code Standardization ,” strongly urging a uniform code system after three people were killed in a shooting incident after the wrong emergency code was called. Code Gray, which typically means a combative person, was announced, drawing staff members toward the shooter. At the time of this incident, in California hospitals, 47 different codes were used for infant abduction and 61 were used for a combative person.

    Three years later, Maryland mandated that all acute hospitals in the state have uniform codes. According to a January 2020 report from the Iroquois Healthcare Association (IHA), other states that recommend color code standardization include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

    When this article was originally published, six fewer states had recommended color code standardization, demonstrating the growing realization of its importance.

    As of Jan. 2020 , at least 25 state hospital associations recommend plain language alerts, including Colorado ,  Florida ,  Iowa ,  Minnesota , Missouri , North Carolina , New Jersey , New York , Pennsylvania ,  South Carolina , Texas  and Wisconsin .

    Other healthcare worker organizations that recommend the use of plain language include 12 different state hospital associations, patient safety organizations and healthcare worker organizations have recommended the use of plain language for hospital emergencies, including the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) , the American Hospital Association, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) , the  US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) , the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the Institute of Medicine, the Joint Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    It is important to note that while there is significant agreement among the 10 color code systems we’ll address in this article, there is no national standard for emergency color codes, leading to inconsistencies among standard systems that are used by each state. This is demonstrated in the chart below from IHA’s report.

    (Graphic: Hospital Emergency Codes Standardization and Plain Language Recommendations and Guidance, Iroquois Healthcare Association)

    Code Blue

    Code Blue means someone is experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, typically an adult. It often means cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. All staff members near the location of the code may need to go to the patient. Most of the time, each employee has a preassigned role in the event of a Code Blue.

    Code White

    Code White indicates a baby or child is experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency. Having a different code for a pediatric emergency is important since treating children often requires specialized equipment.

    Code Red

    Code Red alerts hospital staff to a fire or probable fire. A Code Red may also be activated if someone smells or sees smoke. This code will often come with information about the fire’s location and will typically require evacuation.

    Code Purple

    Code Purple means a missing child or child abduction. In most cases, the hospital will go on lockdown during the search for the child to ensure no one leaves the building with them. The code is often accompanied by additional information, including what they were wearing, where they were last seen, who they were last seen with, etc.

    Code Pink

    Code Pink is similar to Code Purple but denotes an infant abduction.

    Code Gray

    Code Gray indicates a combative or aggressive person , requiring security personnel. It is also typically accompanied by a description of the dangerous person(s) and their location.

    Code Orange

    Code Orange can vary. While it also denotes a combative or aggressive person at some hospitals, at most, it means a call for medical decontamination, typically due to a hazardous fluids spill, like chemicals or patient blood.

    Code Green

    Code Green seems to be the most wavering code, but overall, it indicates the hospital is activating an emergency operations plan. Some hospitals use it to alert the arrival of patients from a mass casualty event while others use it to denote a missing high-risk patient. Typically, the code announcement also includes which emergency operations plan should be activated.

    Code Silver

    Code Silver alerts hospital staff to a person with a weapon and/or active shooter and/or hostage situation. Be sure not to confuse this with a Silver Alert, which some cities, including New York, use when there are missing seniors in imminent danger due to severe cognitive impairments or urgent need of medical care.

    Code Black

    Code Black indicates a bomb threat. Each hospital should have an evacuation protocol in the event of a bomb threat.

    What is code green all about?
    CODE Green is an new subject integrated in all the programs offered by DLSMHSI effective SY 2018-201 to engage Lasallian students in the life, works and mission of St. John Baptist de La Salle and to inspire them to follow his footsteps as Lasallian health professionals. CODE Green Facilitators SY 2018-2019. more
    What is a code green at a hospital?
    Code Green seems to be the most wavering code, but overall, it indicates the hospital is activating an emergency operations plan. Some hospitals use it to alert the arrival of patients from a mass casualty event while others use it to denote a missing high-risk patient. more
    What is a code green in hospital?
    Code Green seems to be the most wavering code, but overall, it indicates the hospital is activating an emergency operations plan. Some hospitals use it to alert the arrival of patients from a mass casualty event while others use it to denote a missing high-risk patient. more
    What is the hex code for green?
    #00FF00 The green hex code is #00FF00. more
    When do you call code green?
    A Code Green tells the team that an agitated individual needs help de-escalating. It sets into motion a rapid intervention to address violent situations and offers assistance and expertise in de-escalating a potentially dangerous encounter. more
    What is Code Green in a mental hospital?
    ®A Code Green is a behavioral. emergency and/or an incident. needing physical support and presence when an individual poses a threat to himself/herself or others. more
    What is code Green in NICU?
    Attention. “Code Green” Evacuate: (Announced location) Evacuate Announced Location: (Code may be used in conjunction with other codes). Immediately evacuate the announced area. Patients should be moved laterally to another Unit on same floor. more
    What is code green in hospital?
    Code Green seems to be the most wavering code, but overall, it indicates the hospital is activating an emergency operations plan. Some hospitals use it to alert the arrival of patients from a mass casualty event while others use it to denote a missing high-risk patient. more
    What is code green in labor and delivery?
    Implications for Nursing Practice The new Code Green promotes empowerment of nurses to initiate rapid responses for obstetric patients off of the labor and delivery unit and access the correct medical team. It improves interdisciplinary communication, which leads to improved patient outcomes. more
    What does code green mean?
    Evacuate Attention. “Code Green” Evacuate: (Announced location) Evacuate Announced Location: (Code may be used in conjunction with other codes). Immediately evacuate the announced area. Patients should be moved laterally to another Unit on same floor. more
    What is a code green?
    Attention. “Code Green” Evacuate: (Announced location) Evacuate Announced Location: (Code may be used in conjunction with other codes). Immediately evacuate the announced area. Patients should be moved laterally to another Unit on same floor. more

    Source: www.campussafetymagazine.com

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