Emergency Color Code Labels Stickers Health Care Hospital

Hospital Emergency Color Code Label ID badge
Hospital Emergency Color Code Label

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Hospital emergency codes are coded messages often announced over a public address system of a hospital to alert staff to various classes of on-site emergencies. The use of codes is intended to convey essential information quickly and with minimal misunderstanding to staff while preventing stress and panic among visitors to the hospital. Such codes are sometimes posted on placards throughout the hospital or are printed on employee identification badges for ready reference.

Hospital emergency codes have often varied widely by location, even between hospitals in the same community. Confusion over these codes has led to the proposal for and sometimes adoption of standardized codes. In many American, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian hospitals, for example “code blue” indicates a patient has entered cardiac arrest, while “code red” indicates that a fire has broken out somewhere in the hospital facility.

In order for a code call to be useful in activating the response of specific hospital personnel to a given situation, it is usually accompanied by a specific location description (e.g., “Code red, second floor, corridor three, room two-twelve”). Other codes, however, only signal hospital staff generally to prepare for the fallout of some external event such as a natural disaster.

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  • Place on ID Badges for Quick Access
  • Color Code Information at your Finger Tips

    Easily have on the back of staff ID badges to ensure that everyone has access to the information quickly when they need it.

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    In Ontario, a standard emergency response code set by the Ontario Hospital Association is used, with minor variations for some hospitals.

    Code amber (code yellow): missing child/child abduction
    Code aqua: flood
    Code black: bomb threat/suspicious object
    Code blue: cardiac arrest/medical emergency – adult
    Code brown: in-facility hazardous spill
    Code green: evacuation (precautionary)
    Code green stat: evacuation (crisis)
    Code grey: infrastructure loss or failure
    Code grey button-down: external air exclusion
    Code orange: disaster
    Code orange CBRN: CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) disaster
    Code pink: cardiac arrest/medical emergency – infant/child
    Code purple: hostage taking/gang activity
    Code red: fire
    Code silver: gun threat/shooter
    Code white: violent/behavioural situation
    Code yellow: missing person

    British Columbia

    Codes used in British Columbia, prescribed by the British Columbia Ministry of Health.[2]

    Code amber: missing or abducted infant or child
    Code black: bomb threat
    Code blue: cardiac and/or respiratory arrest
    Code brown: hazardous spill
    Code green: evacuation
    Code grey: system failure
    Code orange: disaster or mass casualties
    Code pink: pediatric emergency and/or obstetrical emergency
    Code red: fire
    Code white: aggression
    Code yellow: missing patient


    Codes in Alberta are prescribed by Alberta Health Services.[3]

    Code black: bomb threat/suspicious package
    Code blue: cardiac arrest/medical emergency
    Code brown: chemical spill/hazardous material
    Code green: evacuation
    Code grey: shelter in place/air exclusion
    Code orange: mass casualty incident
    Code purple: hostage situation
    Code red: fire
    Code white: violence/aggression
    Code yellow: missing patient
    Code 66: rapid response


    Code blue: adult cardiac or respiratory arrest, loss of consciousness
    Code pink: pediatric cardiac or respiratory arrest, loss of consciousness
    Code purple: infant/neonatal cardiac or respiratory arrest
    Code yellow: missing or lost patient
    Code white: violent patient
    Code brown: in-facility hazardous spill
    Code orange: external disaster
    Code green: evacuation
    Code red: fire
    Code black: bomb threat/suspicious object

    Nova Scotia

    Code blue: cardiac arrest/medical emergency – adult
    Code red: fire
    Code green: evacuation (precautionary)
    Code green stat: evacuation (crisis)
    Code orange: external disaster
    Code yellow: missing person
    Code white: violent person
    Code black: bomb threat
    Code brown: hazardous substance
    Code grey: external air exclusion
    Code pink: pediatric emergency and/or obstetrical emergency

    United States

    United States
    In 2000, the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) determined that a uniform code system was needed after three people were killed in a shooting incident at a hospital after the wrong emergency code was called. While codes for fire (red) and medical emergency (blue) were similar in 90% of California hospitals queried, 47 different codes were used for infant abduction and 61 for combative person. In light of this, the HASC published a handbook titled “Healthcare Facility Emergency Codes: A Guide for Code Standardization” listing various codes and has strongly urged hospitals to voluntarily implement the revised codes.

    In 2003, Maryland mandated that all acute hospitals in the state have uniform codes.

    In 2008, the Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems, Oregon Patient Safety Commission, and Washington State Hospital Association formed a taskforce to standardize emergency code calls. After both states had conducted a survey of all hospital members, the taskforce found many hospitals used the same code for fire (code red); however, there were tremendous variations for codes representing respiratory and cardiac arrest, infant and child abduction, and combative persons. After deliberations and decisions, the taskforce suggested the following as the Hospital Emergency Code:

    In 2015, the South Carolina Hospital Association formed a work group to develop plain language standardization code recommendations. Abolishing all color codes was suggested.

    Amber alert/Code Adam: infant/child abduction
    Code blue: heart or respiration stops (an adult or child’s heart has stopped or they are not breathing)
    Code brown: used to indicate severe weather
    Code clear: announced when emergency is over
    Code grey: combative person (combative or abusive behavior by patients, families, visitors, staff or physicians); if a weapon is involved code silver should be called
    Code orange: hazardous spills (a hazardous material spill or release; unsafe exposure to spill)
    Code pink: infant abduction, pediatric emergency and/or obstetrical emergency
    Code red: fire (also someone smoking in facility) (alternative: massive postpartum hemorrhage)
    Code silver: weapon or hostage situation
    Code white: neonatal emergency or, in other hospitals, aggressive person[citation needed]
    External triage: external disaster (external emergencies impacting hospital including: mass casualties; severe weather; massive power outages; and nuclear, biological, and chemical incidents)
    Internal triage: internal emergency (internal emergency in multiple departments including: bomb or bomb threat; computer network down; major plumbing problems; and power or telephone outage.)
    Rapid response team: medical team needed at bedside (a patient’s medical condition is declining and needs an emergency medical team at the bedside) prior to heart or respiration stopping