Hospital Bracelets Face Hurdles as They Fix Hazard – NYTimes.com

New York’s 11 public hospitals are at the forefront of a national movement to standardize color coding of hospital wristbands to designate patient conditions, in which purple — the color of amethyst — means “Do Not Resuscitate.” Red, or ruby, indicates allergies, while yellow — call it amber — marks someone at risk for falling.

The goal is to prevent potentially dangerous mistakes, like giving the wrong food to an allergic child, or allowing a patient with balance problems to walk unescorted down a freshly waxed hallway. The drive was spurred, in part, by a notorious 2005 Pennsylvania case in which a patient nearly died because a nurse used a yellow band thinking it meant “restricted extremity” (don’t draw blood from that arm), as it did at another hospital where the nurse sometimes worked, when at this hospital it meant D.N.R.

Hospital Bracelets Face Hurdles as They Fix Hazard – NYTimes.com

3 thoughts on “Hospital Bracelets Face Hurdles as They Fix Hazard – NYTimes.com”

  1. I wonder where the color scheme came from? Is it intuitive? Or based on perceptual factors? Black may be more appropriate (morbid as it may be) for death and perhaps yellow for allergies (reminds me of flowers). Sounds like a good study.

  2. Good questions. The article indicates that some thought was given to the choice of colors, namely what was used in the past:

    The specifics are based both on historic precedent and the sign language of colors. Yellow, for falls, is commonly understood as a symbol for caution, whether by janitors mopping floors or by traffic engineers. Red, for allergies, is associated with a command to stop and check for danger. In the past, some hospitals have used blue to signify D.N.R., but it was ruled out on a national level, Ms. Tena-Nelson said, because the phrase “Code Blue,” is often used to call for resuscitation, the opposite of what D.N.R. patients want.

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