Texas hospitals address color-coded alert confusion

Color codes used to alert hospital staff of emergencies in their facilities are under scrutiny in Texas in light of increased infectious disease and mass casualty situations, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Stakeholders have shared pros and cons to the proposed changes.

In June the Texas Hospital Association recommended hospitals use plain-language alerts in lieu of hospital-specific color codes, especially as mergers become more frequent. Instead of issuing a "code red" alert, the association recommends using specific alerts like "armed intruder on the fifth floor" to minimize poor coordination, delays and patient confusion.

President and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council W. Stephen Love told The Dallas Morning News that while specific alerts may reduce error, encrypted color coding systems can reduce patient alarm.

Carrie Kroll, VP of advocacy, quality and public health at THA, told Becker's the association's board has recommended its members use plain-language alerts, though no legislative measure is being taken. Ms. Kroll said THA is hopeful the change will take hold, as many THA systems are moving toward plain-language alerts.

THA will reevaluate the initiative through a survey next year.

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