Hospital emergency codes, or codes, are used to alert staff in a myriad of emergency situations. They are designed to convey essential information as quickly and with as little confusion as possible whilst also remaining discreet in order to keep both patients and visitors calm. They may be posted in signs around the hospital or on the back of employee identification cards for reference.
In general, the codes are based on a color system, though there are also codes with numbers and names. These codes may be different from hospital to hospital, but there is a movement to standardise the code for easy access and to avoid the wrong command being followed.
Because of the large variations within the system, the following are only the most pertinent or those used on House.
Codes by Color
- In the United States, this code is used for child abductions from hospitals. It is directly related to the nationwide AMBER Alert system named for Amber Hagerman, a child who was abducted and murdered. In some hospitals, it is still known as Code Pink or Code Rainbow.
- This is hospital emergency code used to indicate that a patient needs immediate resuscitation usually after a cardiac arrest. It can also be called when a patient is en route to the hospital and needs attention upon arrival. It can be labeled either adult or paediatric, though the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) recommends the latter be called a Code White (see below).
Code Grey (Dr. Strong)
- In New Jersey, as recommended by the New Jersey Hospital Association, this denotes a security emergency. It was mentioned in Broken and Chase (episode)
- For most of America, this is the code for a fire in the hospital.
- Closely tied to a Code Grey, this means that there is a combative person with a weapon who has entered the hospital.
- As mentioned above, this is the recommended code for a child needing immediate resuscitation either in-house or after arriving by emergency vehicle.
- Much like the AMBER system and Code Amber, the Code Adam announces a missing person, normally a child.
- Princeton-Plainsboro uses this code to announce a security emergency.