We've all been in the hospital when over the intercom system we hear "Code Blue Room 217" usually repeated three times. There are several codes like this you'll hear in hospitals throughout Texas, but what do they mean?

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Texas Hospital Codes And What They Mean

Hospital codes are used in healthcare facilities to quickly communicate different types of emergencies or alerts without causing alarm to patients and visitors.

Usually, these codes are repeated three times to make sure they're heard.

These codes are typically announced over the public address system and are understood by hospital staff to mean specific types of situations that require immediate attention and response.

The use of codes can vary from one hospital or health system to another, but there are some common codes that are widely recognized throughout the U.S.

Unsplash Via Piron Guillaume
Unsplash Via Piron Guillaume

Some hospitals may use different colors, numbers, or even plain language announcements for specific situations to reduce confusion among newer staff or visiting healthcare providers.

There are a multitude of different reasons for hospital codes, ranging from severe weather to violence and hostage situations.

In 2005, the Texas Policy and Regulatory Committee adopted standardized code designations for emergency identification in healthcare organizations.

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Having a standard code designation throughout Texas is crucial in helping healthcare staff quickly identify and respond to emergent and dangerous situations.

From publicsafety.fandom.com -

"The Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) determined that a uniform code system is needed after 'three persons were killed in a shooting incident at an area medical center after the wrong emergency code was called.'

While codes for fire (red) and medical emergency (blue) were similar in 90% of California hospitals queried, there were 47 different codes used for infant abduction and 61 for combative person."

Unsplash Via National Cancer Institute
Unsplash Via National Cancer Institute

Below are some of the most common Texas hospital codes from publicsafety.fandom.com.

CODE BLUE - Medical Emergency – Cardiac/Respiratory Arrest


CODE GREY - Severe Weather

CODE BLACK - Bomb or bomb threat

CODE PINK - Infant/Child Abduction

CODE YELLOW - Disaster – Mass Casualty

When calling a CODE YELLOW for a disaster situation, hospitals need to identify whether it is an internal or external disaster by simply calling CODE YELLOW INTERNAL or a CODE YELLOW EXTERNAL.

Unsplash Via Andrik Langfield
Unsplash Via Andrik Langfield

- Hazardous Materials

When calling a CODE ORANGE for a hazardous material spill, hospitals should distinguish between an internal and an external spill by simply calling a CODE ORANGE INTERNAL or a CODE ORANGE EXTERNAL.

CODE WHITE - Security Alert – Violence/Hostage

To distinguish between a combative person with a weapon and one without a weapon, CODE WHITE will be split into two codes: CODE WHITE and CODE SILVER.

CODE WHITE should be used when there is an abusive or assaultive person who is combative or threatening within the facility or within its properties.

This person will not have a weapon (knife, gun,etc). When a Code White is called, law enforcement should respond to the violent situation.

CODE SILVER should be used to communicate to staff that an active shooter exists
within the facility or within its properties.

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.

Read more at publicsafety.fandom.com.

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