KHA Emergency Codes

Emergency Overhead Codes ImageThe Kentucky Hospital Association's Board of Trustees has endorsed the recommendation of its Emergency Preparedness Committee, and approved adoption of a basic set of standard "overhead codes" for use in emergency situations.

During emergencies and disasters, that the resources and talent of our health care system must be shared and potentially sent to other communities and regions of the commonwealth or nation. On a more local basis, some facilities are already sharing staff from PRN agencies and physician groups. As these people move from facility to facility, it appears logical that the codes which trigger emergency protective and response steps should be standardized to help ensure quick action.

These five codes represent fairly standard emergency situations that could threaten the facility, staff and patients. The four "weather-related" codes shown are recommended for communication to staff and visitors alike in plain speech or text to make sure there is understanding by all of the problem, and the appropriate actions to take. For example, when the National Weather Service issues a Tornado Warning, the overhead announcement would likely restate the warning, and instruct people to move to interior spaces away from windows and doors.

The intent of the KHA Emergency Preparedness Committee was to a set a base-level standard. They recognized that there may need to be facility, community or region-specific codes. As illustrations, a facility that offers pediatric services may want to consider s "Code Adam" for an infant or child abduction (following the national system adopted by Wal Mart); and a geriatric center may want to adopt a "Code Brown" for a missing adult patient (both of these examples are taken from standard codes adopted in Ohio).