Keywords: Emergency colour codes, Patient safety
Background: Hospital emergency codes are used as coded messages to alert hospital staff during critical events. These are often developed independently by each healthcare facility leading to variability which creates a source of confusion to healthcare providers and may also jeopardize patient safety. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the variability of emergency colour codes among hospitals.
Methods: A prospective survey was carried out by using a semi structured questionnaire which was completed by the Quality department/hospital administrators of each hospital on general hospital characteristics, emergency colour codes used, code meaning and code mock up. 
Results: Thirty eight hospitals out of forty two participated in the survey. Eleven different types of emergency colour codes were used across hospitals. Most uniformly used codes across all hospital are Code red, blue and pink. Single emergency colour codes have different meanings in different hospitals, greatest number of colour codes an individual hospital had was ten. There is also variability in the meaning that each code had with greatest number of different usages for Yellow (six meanings).
Conclusion: There is clearly lack of uniformity in the type and meaning of emergency colour codes used by the hospitals which could compromise patient safety because of confusion to responders. There is a need to standardize emergency codes by accreditation bodies and government agencies.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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