MO hospitals ditch "code" calls

Missouri hospitals will no longer use phrases like "code black" and "code orange" in high-alert situations.

The Missouri Hospital Association wants organizations to use more transparent phrases like "bomb threat" or "active shooter" rather than code phrases, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Pain language alerts and warnings will heighten patient safety and response time, Leslie Porth, vice president of health planning at the Missouri Hospital Association, told the newspaper.

"With outdated codes that didn't have clarity, there was sometimes a delay in the response from patients and visitors who didn't understand the directive," Porth said. "A lot of research supports the fact that plain language leads to increased patient safety and reduces confusion."

The Missouri Hospital Association started a task force to address language changes in 2012, after a tornado tore through Joplin, Mo., destroying 320-bed St. John's Regional Medical Center. Now, almost 90 percent of hospitals across the state have adopted the new terminology when it comes to hospital abductions, tornadoes, bomb threats and other emergencies, the Post-Dispatch reported. However, popular phrases, such as "code red" for fire and "code blue" for medical emergencies, will remain in place.

Being open and honest with patients and visitors is essential in an emergency, especially when minutes or seconds could be the difference between life and death, hospitals officials told the newspaper.

"The old theory was you didn't want to scare people, but in some cases it's more helpful for people to know what's going on," Steve Bollin, vice president of safety and security at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, told the Post-Dispatch. "It gets their cooperation faster and helps people to calm down."

To learn more:
- here's the Post-Dispatch article