TX hospitals standardize color-coded alert wristbands

The Texas Hospital Association today announced a voluntary effort to standardize the use of color-coded alert wristbands in the state’s hospitals. “This is one simple, but important, step hospitals can take to help ensure the safety of their patients,” said THA President and CEO Dan Stultz, M.D. “Each wristband, by virtue of its color, expresses a particular care directive for clinicians. With all hospitals agreeing to use the same colors, we can reduce the potential for error.” To reduce the risk of error and enhance patient safety, the Texas Hospital Association has joined more than 25 other states in a voluntary effort to standardize the use of color-coded alert wristbands in hospitals.

A THA Press Release notes that hospitals will use three color-coded “alert” wristbands: red for an allergy alert, yellow for risk of falls, and purple to signify the physician has written a do-not-resuscitate order based on the patient’s advance directives. In addition to the color code, the alert is written on the wristband to reduce the chance of confusion. The Texas Organization of Nurse Executives and others helped implement the standard. To facilitate adoption of the standardized wristbands, THA developed a comprehensive online toolkit for hospitals and held a train-the-trainer conference call. A CD-ROM version of the toolkit also was mailed to all hospitals in Texas. THA will survey hospitals again in approximately nine months to review the effectiveness of the voluntary initiative.

For more information, visit www.texashospitalsonline.org .

(SOURCES: AHA News Now, http://ahanews.com , October 8, 2008; Texas Hospital Association, http://texalhospitalsonline.org , October 8, 2008).