Piedmont Hospitals change emergency codes

Patients and visitors at any of Piedmont Healthcare’s hospitals will now hear plain language emergency announcements, a best practice recommended by 25 state hospital associations and several leading federal agencies, instead of codes with corresponding colors. According to a press release, the change in these alerts, which notify staff, patients and visitors of various emergency warnings or safety threats and which was implemented Sept. 1, is part of Piedmont’s continuing commitment to put patient safety at the forefront of its strategic focus.

As Piedmont Healthcare has grown from five to 11 hospitals over the past four years, entities that have joined the system have brought with them their own color-coded systems. As a result, a code at one hospital might hold a different meaning at another hospital. This system can lead to code confusion among providers who work at multiple facilities.

The use of plain language emergency alerts is recommended by federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

FEMA states that it is important that responders and incident managers use common terminology as the use of plain language in emergency response is a matter of public safety, especially the safety of those affected by the incident. As an example, formerly a “Code Red” would have indicated a fire. Under the new system, the alert will be “Facility Alert – Fire Alarm” followed by the location of the threat. One exception is that Code Blue, which indicates a medical emergency, will remain.

Information: piedmont.org.