Hospital Emergency Codes

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Standardized health care emergency codes for California

The Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) Safety and Security Committee and AllHealth Security Services helped define Health Care Emergency Codes for the state of California. Download the latest codes at right, along with implementation guides, checklists and other materials to assist you with implementing uniform emergency codes for your facility.

About Health Care Emergency Codes

The HASC Security and Safety Committee completed a revision of the Health Care Emergency Codes in May 2014.  We invite your updates and suggestions to this document at any time. 

These guidelines offer a flexible plan in responding to emergencies, allowing only those functions or positions that are needed to be put into action.  Additional customization of these guidelines must be made to make them applicable to a specific facility.  All information being provided to facilities is for their private use.  These guidelines can be used in many ways to assist health care facilities in the development of their own specific policies and procedures.  The information contained in this document is offered solely as general information, and is not intended as legal advice.

In December 1999, HASC established a Safety and Security Committee comprised of representatives from member hospitals with expertise in safety, security, licensing and accreditation. The committee’s mission is to address issues related to safety and security at health care facilities. One major issue the committee has tackled concerns the lack of uniformity among emergency code systems utilized at different health care facilities.

Adopting code uniformity enables the numerous individuals who work across multiple facilities to respond appropriately to specific emergencies, enhancing their own safety, as well as the safety of patients and visitors. To facilitate code uniformity, the committee developed a standardized set of uniform codes and guidelines that can be adopted by all health care facilities.

In July 2000, the committee adopted the following standardized code names, which remain in effect today:

  • RED for fire
  • BLUE for adult medical emergency
  • WHITE for pediatric medical emergency
  • PINK for infant abduction
  • PURPLE for child abduction
  • YELLOW for bomb threat
  • GRAY for a combative person
  • SILVER for a person with a weapon and/or active shooter and/or hostage situation
  • ORANGE for a hazardous material spill/release
  • TRIAGE INTERNAL for internal disaster
  • TRIAGE EXTERNAL for external disaster

In 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2014, the codes were reviewed by members of the committee and updated to ensure compliance and conformity to the National Incident Management System, the Hospital Incident Command System, the Joint Commission and other regulatory and accrediting agencies. Additionally, a new code was added (GREEN for patient elopement) and Code TRIAGE was expanded to include an ALERT.

These guidelines offer a flexible plan in responding to emergencies, allowing only those functions or positions that are needed to be put into action. Additional customization of these guidelines must be made to make them applicable to a specific facility. All information being provided to facilities is for their private use. These guidelines can be used in many ways to assist health care facilities in the development of their own specific policies and procedures.

For more information about these codes, please contact Pat Wall, pwall@hasc.org or (213) 538-0715.

The information contained in this document is not intended as legal advice and is offered solely for general information.