WSHA, members standardizing, simplifying emergency code events

May 17, 2024

In 2008, WSHA engaged with stakeholders to standardize hospital emergency code events. (You may know these codes by their colors, such as “code blue” for a patient whose heart has stopped or who has stopped breathing.) Hospitals have since built upon this standard, resulting in the use of more than 50 different hospital codes across the state. Working with members, it was clear we needed to convene to standardize in a more lasting way.

To make these emergency code events as clear as possible – and in alignment with national safety and emergency management recommendations – we are transitioning to a plain-language system, making it easier for everyone to know the nature of an emergency without a reference guide. We plan to roll out this new system in October, complete with new “badge buddies” that can clip to the backside of hospital employee name badges.

The new system will have three different types of alerts: facility alerts, medical alerts and security alerts. Those alerts will be paired with an event (i.e. fire alarm, stroke, missing person), a location in the facility and any other relevant directions (i.e. follow evacuation procedures).

To learn more about why plain language is the best approach, please see information from the American Hospital Association about the use of plain language alerts and an FAQ from the Department of Homeland Security. We will keep members informed as we continue this project, and we look forward to sharing this system with you in the fall.


Tina Seery
WSHA Senior Director, Safety & Quality


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