20 Hospital Codes And The Real Meaning Behind Them

Being in the hospital is already stressful enough, but add on nurses yelling out codes that parents don’t know sounds like a situation that will cause a lot of nervousness and make moms lose their breath. Right?

“Code red, repeat, code red!” Soon flashing lights are blinding the eyes, loud buzzers are trying to blow out eardrums, and frantic patients scramble around clueless. It brings back memories of those practice safety drills that were done in Elementary school back in the day! It is crazy how fast 30 five-year-olds stop playing and lineup the second that red flashing light started going off in the classroom. It sounds like yelling, “fire, run!” across the speaker is a more simple idea, but it would for sure spook everyone.

Well, enough with leaving mom in the dust- we are going to let her in on the hospital’s secret codes to help make her visits a little less alarming. Now, moms can calmly wait in the lobby and not be looking up every code they hear over the PA system like a helicopter parent. Plus, the last thing a mom needs is to be doing in labor is trying to decode the meanings like Alan Turing from The Imitation Game while she is pushing! We have put together a list of codes moms should know, but be aware, they can vary a bit from hospital to hospital!

20 Code Triage- Disaster!


This code is a combination of a few other codes put into one. This could be an issue inside or outside of the hospital and law enforcement or hospital experts need to seek help in the situation. This could be anything from a chemical spill inside the hospital, a gas leak near the hospital, bad weather, or a threat. If they know the exact issue, they will use the proper code color to alert professionals. This code is more of a friendly waving hand saying, “hey come help us over here!” Just people helping people to keep us all safe!

19 Code Orange- there's been a spill


Code orange means something icky has splattered on the floor! Now, they don’t mean Grandpa Joe dropped his tray of delicious lasagna in the hospital cafeteria floor! Code Orange means there has been a hazardous spill and needs attention too! A hazardous spill can be anything from a chemical spill, blood, pee, or even the brown stuff. Don’t pull out your mom card and try to help clean it up! First off, it’s not a patient's job and secondly, there is specific protocol when cleaning up hazardous spills. Leave it to the professionals and put the Windex away mommy!

18 Code Black- Tic, Tic, Boom


Luckily, with today's security and our amazing police forces, they squash code black threats before they put us all in terror. Code black means a bomb threat is near or has been made on the hospital. There are different stages of code black too, meaning stage 1 would be like an odd unknown package delivered to the hospital. A stage 3 would mean there has been a threat actually called in. Like mentioned before, the chances of hearing them yell code black over the intercom is slim, since they know it will put people in pure horror.

17 Code Amber- Missing Child


This one is no joke. Even if moms are not at the hospital, everyone’s phone will vibrantly ring and wake you up at 2am to alert you of this occurrence. This alert is issued when law enforcement sees a child is at risk of serious injury. They send out enough information about the victim and child in hopes society can come together and help bring this baby back to safety. It's a community effort to bring the child back to safety that has had a lot of success. This code is one that every mama needs to listen for and keep those big eyes out!

16 Code Green- Everyone Must Evacuate


Tie up those shoes because it’s time to leave! Like they say, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Code green is called when the hospital needs to have an evacuation because an area is unsafe for patients, visitors, or staff. They can call an evacuation for a floor, section, or the whole hospital. Be sure those ears are listening carefully so you don’t end up standing outside when you don’t need to! It may seem obvious, but when exiting avoid the affected situation and stay with your family. Separating or trying to be the hero will cause a more stressful situation! Find the nearest exit, and book it!

15 Code Purple- Hospital Take Over


A moms first instinct will be to hide or run if you hear code purple, but don’t! Code purple means there is a hostage takeover occurring. Panicking and trying to run will most likely put everyone in more danger. Wait and listen for further instructions from the ones in charge. Clearly, if they warned the hospital over the speakers, they are taking care of the situation and law enforcement is on the way. Stay calm! Code purple is not one we hear everyday, so if code purple is constantly on the speaker in the hospital, it may have a different meaning there!

14 Code Brown- Oh, The Weather Outside Is awful!


Winter seems to always bring golf ball sized hail and wind that could knock one right over! Probably not the safest weather to be spinning in circles lost in the parking lot trying to search for a parked car. Code Brown isn’t used for a few loud rumbles and small lightning flashes. Code brown is only called when the weather is seriously bad! According to National Healthcare Provider Solutions, “Severe weather is defined by any weather event in which reasonable damage and possible injury if exposed to the storm could occur.” When you see it getting cloudy, just hope for a side of meatballs, not the bad stuff!

13 Code Blue- Heart Ache


A “Code blue child” call applies to immediate intervention needed to anyone from the age of 30 days old to 13 years old. This means cardiorespiratory arrest assistance is needed immediately on a young child. Like said before, this can mean a newborn that is a month old to a young child still ready to discover what life is about. Code blue is the voice over the speakers that make a heart ache in pain and want to give hugs to the loved ones around. It is a code that strikes fear into our bodies. It’s the code that we hope to never hear.

12 Code Omega- someone's losing too much


This code really won’t mess up mom’s vibes in the hospital, but it is important to know when it is heard it’s a serious matter. Code omega is not a sorority chant happening in the hallway. It actually means there is life threatening blood loss occurring somewhere in the hospital. This code is considered a life threatening code and is so important because it efficiently and quickly tells the staff and team members where help is needed. Code omega is very serious, but to a new mommy, code 33 means this horrific trauma is occurring near the obstetrical wing.

11 Code Grey- This Girl Is On Fire!


Yes, this code is used the same as code white. Depending on what code the hospital chooses to use, you may hear code grey or code white. Code grey is when someone is raged with fury and needs a little assistance to calm down. Who can blame them? The hospital is definitely not on the list of happy places on this earth. Events and issues can happen in seconds leaving people with indescribable feelings and not understanding how to cope. So, code grey is used to get the proper assistance to help calm down the upset person in the hospital. Hey, we’ve all been there! No shame!

10 Code Yellow- Where’s Waldo?


Code yellow is similar to code amber. Code yellow means a patient is missing. Although this is very serious, very often it occurs because a wandering elder has varied off and may be lost. Yes, this of course is dangerous and needs immediate attention. It is helpful to mommys to understand this so they aren’t automatically thinking that abductions are occuring left and right in the hospital. Code yellow also means there is a disaster in many hospitals. As a mom, be sure to know what the codes mean in the hospital so you aren’t assuming the worst!

9 Code Clear- All Is Good


Three cheers for code clear! Hip, hip, hooray! Code clear means all is good. And yes, feel free to let out a deep yogi breath and smile extra big because those amazing experts just saved a life or solved another problem! They seriously are the best. High five a nurse or doctor when they come to the room because the emergency is over! Shouldn’t they come around with a tray of scones and bubblies because this code needs to have a little party! If there is one code that should do the opposite of make your blood boil, its code clear!

8 Code Pink- Baby Issues


There are two code pinks and the one to be alarmed about is code pink when referring to babies. Code pink means an infant is in need of assistant. This means they need breathing help, are having behavior issues, need to go to the NICU, or have a pediatric emergency. Now mommies who just gave birth to their baby and hear code pink, will shoot up out of the hospital bed faster than when they smelt cookies in the oven during the third trimester cravings. Relax, the nurse will be in if your baby is needing assistance.

7 Code 33- Obstetrical Crisis


For a pregnant mom, code 33 is like a living nightmare. It is a code no mom would wish on her worst enemy. Seriously, anyone would rather part take in every Fear Factor challenge than have to hear the words code 33 barked over the speakers. It just means trouble for a mommy. Code 33 means a pregnant mom is in need of immediate obstetrical care. This doesn’t necessarily mean just blood loss. Code 33 can mean strange heartbeats, moms in distress, and much more. Hearing this code can leave a pit in your stomach, but it’s crucial to know, the experts know what to do!

6 Code Pink Part 2- Just Breathe


The second code pink is not an easy one for a mommy to ever hear. Just like the newborn “code pink,” this means a child is having cardiac issues or is in serious need of assistance. Not something a mommy ever wants to experience with their own child. Hospitals use codes like this to help keep patients in a less stressed state. If you are already in labor, the last thing you want to be thinking about is your child having cardiac issues. So, using a code is much easier then yelling, “a child on floor 4 is in serious trouble, help!” Right?

5 Code Silver- Lock The Doors


Hopefully, the days of elementary school when classrooms practiced lock downs ring a bell. Code silver is the same drill. Lock the doors and try to stay away from any windows! Code silver means an intruder is in the building with a weapon. Hospitals are full of officers on staff so there is no need to let anxiety rise and be hysterical, law enforcement is on your side! Keep family in the room, stay together, and don’t open the door. Most likely staff members also have an emergency plan as to where they will go as well when there is a code silver!

4 Code Red- Stop, Drop, And Roll!


Remember fire safety as a kid? Three simple steps: stop, drop, and roll! Remember the drill? When patients hear code red, it means exactly what it sounds like, fire! This sounds very alarming, but code red doesn’t necessarily mean the hospital is up in flames. It can simply mean a doctor burnt his popcorn in the microwave during his shift. Totally understandable! So, many times, it just may be that someone smells smoke. Most people can associate code red with fire, it isn't likely that it will be yelled out freely since hospitals know it puts everyone in a panic.

3 Code OB- The Worst


These two little letters are much worse than stubbing a baby toe and getting lemon in a paper cut, everyday of the week. This code is one that will bring many teams in the hospital together to save a life. It brings alarm to the room and tears to the eyes. Code OB means a baby or mommy has lost their heart beat or has stopped breathing during labor. This means they urgently need multiple team experts to help rescue the situation. Hearing code OB will make your heart skip a beat and want to hold your breath till code clear is called.

2 Code White- Anger Management


Let’s be honest, hearing bad news or not hearing what one wants can make anyone tick! When doctors come in to the room with no answer or to tell the visitors that things aren’t going well, someone isn’t happy. Right? It is common for visitors of patients to yell at the doctor to fix the problem or be raged that the news isn’t good, which results in code white. Code white is when someone is being verbally or physically aggressive. Luckily, these amazing doctors know you are frustrated at the situation, but they are trained and have helpful law officers on ground if the situation spins out of control!

1 Code Gold- Bad Behavior


Sadly, code gold doesn’t mean hospital staff are bringing you a ticket to Wonka World, or passing out free money. Now, that is one code they should adapt! Cold gold means there is a mental health or behavior revolving around mental health that needs assistance or medical assistance. This code should not be scary for the moms, it is more, like most code, used to alert the professionals. Knowing the codes will help moms be aware of their surroundings when making their hospital visits!

Resources: Webmed.com, Healthline.com, naps.com, amberalert.gov

More in Did You Know...