Plain Language Alerts?

Colour coding alert systems perhaps complicate our work environments unnecessarily.

I’ve always wondered why they haven’t just said what the alert is. They’re not internationally recognised (a myriad of different systems here) aren’t intuitive, occur extremely rarely in some cases and may be easily forgotten. Misinterpretation of colour coding can create its own set of problems (see here).

Perhaps what is most important is that people understand what is going on (without causing panic) and respond in the appropriate way.

It appears like the work on rectifying this has already been done in other parts of the world where they have reverted to plain language alerts (some colours are retained if wanted – and often these are intuitive eg red for fire, blue for the arrested patient who will often be turning blue).

This is how It’s been set up in North Carolina:


Please click on this link to see how they achieved this simplification.

Should we adopt plain language alerts internationally for patient safety? Please let me know your thoughts.

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