Emergency Code Plain Language


Hospitals in South Carolina and the South Carolina Hospital Association are committed to safe, quality health care. One way to promote safety and reduce harm is to implement plain language emergency codes. Historically, hospital emergency codes were assigned a color. The use of color codes was intended to convey essential information quickly with minimal misunderstanding to staff, while preventing stress and panic among visitors to the hospital. Unfortunately, the risks of using color codes now outweigh the benefits. There is significant variation of color codes across organizations, which leads to confusion of health care providers and, in some instances, harm to health care providers. Hospitals have also received feedback from consumers stating that color codes increased their stress level. Consumers want to be informed and have asked hospitals for transparency.


The South Carolina Hospital Association has developed a number of resources to assist you in transitioning to plain language emergency codes.

Documents and Resources