10 Hospital Emergency Codes That You Must Know About


Hospitals use emergency codes to let their staff know about when an emergency situation is taking place. The primary concept behind having these codes is to eliminate fear, but also to notify about any kind of threat to those who are trained and assigned to handle such situations.


If you hear an emergency code in a hospital, step aside and let the hospital staff do their work. Nevertheless, it won’t hurt to know what’s going on in that situation rather than feeling dumbfounded.


Here is a list consisting of 10 hospital emergency codes that you must be aware of.


1) Code Omega


A “Code Omega” is a code that mainly applies to the obstetrics department. This is a hospital wing where pregnant women come for checkup and babies are born. The code is known to address a peripartum woman who has undergone excessive blood-loss. Peripartum refers to a fancy word for a woman who is either in the middle of a birth or just has finished giving birth.


Simply, the code notifies a critical situation caused due to excessive blood loss during birth. This is one of the most leading causes of maternal deaths worldwide as well.


When you hear this code and you are in the obstetrics department (hopefully visiting and not the one delivering a baby) of a hospital, you may notice the hospital staff bursting through the doors along with IV blood bags to help the patient sustain adequate blood supply.


2) Code 33


Similar to “Code Omega,” “Code 33” occurs when there is a need to signify a critical obstetric situation. This code may include medical conditions same as code omega but might not be limited to excessive blood loss. Obstetric emergencies also include fetal distress, such as sharp changes in heartbeats or blood pressure, deficiency of oxygen in the mother or baby, and more. A “Code 33” may result in a hurried emergency c-section.


3) Code OB


Another code that is similar to a “Code 33” but is reserved for situations that are more serious.  A “Code OB” is announced when a diverse team is urgently required to respond to a life-threatening situation involving a pregnant woman, such as when the fetus is at a substantial risk of not making it out alive or doesn’t have a heartbeat after taking birth. Basically, the use of this code means bringing together a team of experts to resuscitate a newly born baby.


4) Code Pink


A “Code Pink” is called upon only in the NICU and indicates a newborn with cardiac threats. In other words, it is called when a premature baby is born, whose heart stops beating or has a problem sustaining a normal sinus rhythm.


This is probably one of the most horrifying codes, especially if it relates to your little baby. Although it is a nightmare for a mother to hear this code, it is important to understand that these codes are called upon for the hospital staff to assemble in a way to potentially save lives.


5) Code Red


This is one of those other codes that are used internationally. A “Code Red” indicates that there is a fire somewhere in the hospital. The calling of this code will generally be followed by the location of the fire, such as a room number, floor number, wing or unit type.

However, it doesn’t mean they will be evacuating the entire hospital as there could be a relatively small fire that can be extinguished easily.


6) Code White


A “Code White” is used to alert hospital staff if there is a violent person in the premise. This will also be followed by a floor number, room number, or unit. A “Code White” can be used for anyone. It can be used for a patient who has gone violent as well as for a hospital visitor.


7) Code Black


You would not want to hear a “Code Black,” particularly in a hospital setting. A “Code Black” indicates a bomb threat and is used to alert hospital staff to perform whatever bomb threat protocols they have in place. This may include evacuation of the entire hospital, depending on the nature and severity of the bomb threat.


8) Code Purple


A “Code Purple” is a code that you may never want to hear in a hospital. It indicates that any one person has taken another person hostage with the help of some sort of weapon. In addition to this, it necessarily doesn’t have to be done with the use of a standardized weapon like a gun, but with a needle or sharp medical instrument routinely found in a hospital.


If you hear “code purple” is being called, sit tight and wait for the proper instructions.


9) Code Sepsis


A “Code Sepsis” is specifically called when there is a patient experiencing sepsis or entering into sepsis shock. Sepsis refers to a condition in which foreign invaders like bacteria, virus or fungus get into the bloodstream and cause a severe, life-threatening infection to the patient.


This infection mainly damages the body’s immune system by causing inflammation in the body. This further affects the heart rate, white blood cells count, body temperature, and respiratory function.


You would not want to hear this code in the obstetrics wing because sepsis can be extremely dangerous for mothers and babies.


10) Code Clear


This is the best code you could hear in a hospital. “Code Clear” means the threats accompanied by whatever code that has been recently called has cleared. It means the situation warranted by a code is no longer harmful.


However, in most cases this would mean a good sign, a “Code Clear“ doesn’t always mean the doctors and nurses were successful at resolving the reasons for the code. In other words, it may indicate that the patient has passed away, but it also says that the signs are back to normal and the patient has been stabilized.