Methodist Healthcare
March 26, 2015




Methodist Healthcare Brings National Trend to Local Area as Color Coded Alerts Are Replaced with Descriptive Terms to Avoid Confusion and Improve Response

All Methodist Healthcare facilities in San Antonio have replaced color-coded alerts for medical emergencies with plain language descriptions to warn patients and staff about fires, abductions, bomb threats, and violent intruders with weapons and other emergencies.  For example, “Code Red” is now “Fire in hospital (location)”.  The only emergency code that remains color-coded is “Code Blue” for medical emergency.  

Plain language emergency codes are being adopted nationwide to ensure transparency and patient and public safety.  “Our objective at Methodist Healthcare is to eliminate confusion and variation of emergency codes among hospitals and to increase staff, physician and visitor knowledge of appropriate alerts,” said Isaac Luten, director of security for Methodist Healthcare System. 

Research shows that plain language reduces confusion and response errors and eliminates the need for different messages for patients, employees and staff.  By hearing the emergency alert in plain language, patients and visitors are more likely to follow staff direction at a time when seconds count.

All Methodist hospitals conduct emergency drills on a regular basis; the new plain language alert will now be used in drills to acclimate staff, physicians and community on the new process.

Methodist Healthcare System is the largest healthcare provider in South and Central Texas with 27 facilities including nine acute care hospitals serving 90,000 inpatients and 390,000 annually.