Our emergency room had calmed for the night and my partners and I had settled in the office to take a much earned break. No more than a minute passes and our switchboard operators call over our radio stating, “Why aren’t you at the code blue on level 2”? We told them because they never called us. So we jumped up and ran to the second floor. Upon arrival staff was still arriving to this 35 year old crashing fast. There had been almost 10 minutes of down time for this patient who was coding for mysterious causes.
The security department responds to code blues for several reasons because we are all trained in basic life support, we move equipment out of the way to move the patient, lock down elevators, and crowd control. People visiting love to stand in the middle of hallways and door ways to watch the circus. They actually will argue with us stating they have a right to watch (still can’t find that one in the constitution). It seems when people code all the hospitals junk is parked in or around the room. We also get a set of all keys (weighs a ton) so we can also lock elevators and make them go directly to the floors we want. The last hospital I worked in the never wanted us jumping in and starting compressions, but this one realizes if we are the only ones there then we need to know what to do.
So after everything calmed down and the patient returned to us, damage unknown, and we got the patient into the ICU I went to our switchboard operators. I asked why the big break down in communications and the explanation dumfounded me. Our hospital has came up with so many acronyms and short terms that when level 2 wanted to call a code blue they ended up calling for the wrong team. Level 2 called down for a quick response team which also means code green for a combative patient. So instead of doctors; pharmacist, RNs, techs, and security you instead get plant operations, housekeeping, security, and the police get put on hold. Well when no one showed because our operators assumed everyone in the hospital had special pagers, we don’t only radios, the level 2 staff had to leave all patients to help this one.
I went to do a debrief session with our switchboard and nurses and figured a way to fix the problem. I understand the hospital wants to be cute with all these special names to hide codes, but now it could cause people to loose their life. They should stick with a basic code system that has worked for years and cut down on confusion. I know calling a code blue will attract crowds, but that’s why we show up. Medical staff needs to worry about patient care and let security worry about our job. I am glad to say the patient is doing alright and it turns out the patient had a hidden infection that did not show up in any tests. It was the first times in years where it felt like we in a medical television show like House or something.
Friday, June 1, 2007