Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Codes, Codes, & More Codes

A hospital I worked for just announced that in order to provide more transparency for patients and visitors, they would no longer be using colors to announce emergency codes - code red for fire, code blue for cardiac arrest, code black for weather emergency, etc.  I guess they will just announce them by name - fire, cardiac arrest, tornado warning, bomb threat, etc.

This is no big deal, it's not like we lied to the patients if they asked what the announcement meant when a color was given over the PA system.  We didn't run around closing doors and if the patient/family asked why we were doing it we didn't yell "IT'S A SECRET" and scoot away to close more doors.  Transparency is the latest overused buzzword for health care, but nurses have always been pretty transparent.  Eliminating the colors for emergency codes?  Sounds good to us, one less thing we have to memorize.

At lunch with a nurse friend the other day, we started discussing this and she told me that her hospital has just implemented a new code - Code Active Shooter.  Wow.

Having worked at two hospitals when there was an active shooter while I was at work, I might have appreciated this code being announced.  This got me thinking about transparency (ugh, I said it again).  It seems like having an active shooter might be one time that using a color would be good - no need to incite pandemonium.  On the other hand, it's probably a good idea to alert staff, patients, visitors that there is an active shooter and they should take cover.

I think the best solution in this situation is to avoid having to use this code by avoiding active shooters in the hospital. 

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