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Code Silver! Code Yellow! A thing of the past – now some hospitals are “Just saying it”

NORFOLK, Va. - Code Silver! Code Yellow! Those who watch medical dramas may be more familiar with what these color codes mean, but many folks don't. That's why all Sentara hospitals switched to "just saying it."

As of Tuesday at 9:00 a.m., the color codes went away.

“In the old way of communicating, we used these cryptic codes, colors and things that you didn’t know what that meant. Now what we're trying to do is bring everyone in the fold so you understand what’s going on around you. Is that an area you should be in, an area you need to get out of? Or is it an area you can help participate in what’s going on," said Brian Boland, the Sentara Director for Emergency Management.

For example, instead of saying code silver, over the speakers, those in the hospital will hear there is an incident where a patient required help from security in a certain area. That way patients, family members, other visitors and anyone in the hospital can avoid that area until the situation has been handled.

But not all the codes are going away.

"What we realized is people know what code blue is so we’re going to use it as well. But we’re going to bracket it with plain language. So now code blue for the vast majority knows medical emergency, but we also bracket that with plain language that says this is a medical emergency," said Boland.

Plain language is recommended by Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.