Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    "Code Blue", "Code Black": What Does "Code" Mean?

    "Code Red," "Code Blue," "Code Black" -- people sometimes wonder what these terms mean, especially if they're fans of TV hospital dramas.

    Technically, there's no formal definition for a code, but doctors often use the term as slang for a cardiopulmonary arrest happening to a patient in a hospital or clinic, requiring a team of providers (sometimes called a code team) to rush to the specific location and begin immediate resuscitative efforts.

    Recommended Related to

    Understanding Bone Fractures -- Prevention

      To help prevent fractures, follow general safety precautions, including: Always wear a seat belt when riding in a motor vehicle. Always wear the proper safety equipment (helmets and other protective pads) for recreational activities, such as bike riding, snowboarding, or contact sports. Keep walkways and stairs free of objects that could cause you to trip. If you have osteoporosis, engage in regular exercise to improve your strength and balance, which may help reduce falls, and discuss...

    Read the Understanding Bone Fractures -- Prevention article > >

    Each hospital or clinic can decide how it wishes to manage and inform staff of potential emergencies. Many institutions use colors (e.g. Code Red, Code Blue) to identify specific types of emergencies. Code Red and Code Blue are both terms that are often used to refer to a cardiopulmonary arrest, but other types of emergencies (for example bomb threats, terrorist activity, child abductions, or mass casualties) may be given code designations, too. Colors, numbers, or other designations may follow a code announcement to identify the type of emergency that is occurring.

    Some hospitals announce emergencies over a public address system, while others just alert the necessary personnel via a pager system. Also, the use of the term "code" to signify that an emergency is occurring is not limited to medical practice. Other institutions, such as office buildings, schools, or government facilities, may use code designations to alert personnel that an emergency is occurring.

    There are no standard definitions or conventions for the use of code designations. While code blue does refer to a cardiopulmonary arrest at many hospitals, it doesn't necessarily mean the same thing everywhere. But even if you aren't sure about the meaning of announcements you may hear, keep in mind that every hospital or institution has its own policies and conventions for notification of personnel in the event of emergencies, and the doctors and staff are trained to recognize and respond appropriately to these announcements.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 25, 2015

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    sticky notes on face
    10 tips to clear your brain fog.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    Trainer demonstrating exercise for RA
    Exercises for your joints.
    apple slices with peanut butter
    What goes best with workouts?
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.