Somebody call a CODE!

If you’ve ever watched a hospital drama on TV, you’re probably familiar with terms like “Code Blue.” Usually a doctor or nurse is yelling that they need something STAT or they shout, “Call Dr. So-and-so STAT, he’s coding!” (Hey, I think I might be able to write for ER or Grey’s Anatomy)! Today I was sitting in a hospital unit and above me on a bulletin board was a list of numbers to call for codes.

Code Blue: Pretty universal, someone has been found unconscious, not breathing or without a pulse.

Code Red: Usually fire.

And then it gets a little murky from there. Code Pink and Code Purple were on that list. Code Pink? If that was called overhead I would have no clue who to page or what equipment to grab. But wait, there’s more . . . did you know there are DOZENS of hospital emergency codes? And they can mean several different things – According to this Wikipedia article, Code Purple can mean the following:

  • Emergency department can no longer accept patients; divert incoming cases to other hospitals if at all possible (Canada, also Wellstar Health Group)
  • Australian Standard for Bomb or Substance alert.[1]
  • Hostage situation or patient abduction (Ontario Hospital Association)
  • Psychiatric emergency – patient is a threat to self or others (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA).
  • Lost or disoriented elderly patient (Swedish First Hill Hospital, Seattle, WA).
  • Patient, Staff, Visitor Injury (Tampa General Hospital)

And in case you’re thinking along the lines of “I support everything” ribbons, don’t call a Code Rainbow: it means riot or all hands on deck disaster! I’ll have to pay a little more attention to the background pages on TV and hope I don’t hear them live!


One response to “Somebody call a CODE!

  1. Yeah, those little colorful ribbons kind of bug me. There’s just too many to keep up with: yellow for troops, pink for breast cancer, green for the environment…

    In grad school I was given a gray ribbon – it was for supporting our cities. Sort of random, huh?

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