Texas Hospitals’ Use of Plain Language Emergency Alerts Grows

(Austin – March 1, 2018) Hospitals across Texas continue to transition from hospital-specific, color-based emergency codes to standardized, plain language alerts as part of their work to promote safety, reduce errors and increase transparency of communications and safety protocols. To date, at least 14 Texas hospitals and health systems have switched from color codes to plain language emergency alerts.

The Texas Hospital Association formally endorsed voluntary use of plain language alerts in June 2016.

“Hendrick Medical Center began preparing for the switch from color-based codes to plain language emergency notifications in middle to late 2016, with implementation in January 2017,” said Tim Lancaster, president and CEO, Hendrick Medical Center, Abilene. “We believe our physicians, employees, patients and visitors benefit from the clearer, common sense communication in an emergency situation when every second counts.”

The intent of using standardized, plain language alerts is to:

  • Promote the safety of patients, visitors, physicians and hospital staff.
  • Reduce errors.
  • Increase transparency of communications and safety protocols.
  • Align with national safety recommendations.
  • Reduce confusion for staff or physicians who work in more than one facility.

“When an emergency occurs and time is of the essence, variation among hospitals in how they alert hospital staff, patients and visitors can create confusion and delay or uncertainty in response,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “THA endorsed the use of plain language and works with its member hospitals on implementing plain language alerts as part of our work to support the industry in its mission to provide the highest quality, safest care.”

THA’s recommended plain language alerts are divided into four categories: facility alerts, medical alerts, security alerts and weather alerts. Alerts allow for hospitals to personalize the information to their facilities and provide site-specific details.

Complete project resources are available on www.tha.org/plainlanguagealerts.



Lance Lunsford, senior vice president, strategic communications
Email: llunsford@tha.org
Twitter: @lancelunsford

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About THA
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents 452 of the state’s non-federal general and specialty hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 369,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.