We have all heard the hospital PA system crackle to life as an urgent "Color Code" is called out and the flurry of activity initiates nurses running to the scene to fill out there duty.
In nearly all codes, it is a patient in danger but there is one code that often means the nurses may be in harms way.
CODE WHITE means there is a potentially violent or out of control patient and the front lines are in danger of injury. Some hospitals in Canada have reported up to 10 "Code Whites" in a day, especially in areas that have a high rate of Mental Health and/or addiction cases. A news article below is an example of the kind of incidents we are discussing. This news article raises the challenge to every facility caring for mental health and addiction cases: Are you "Code White Ready"?
Code White Ready is a complex consideration, preventing harm to staff, public and self harm to the patient. The unpredictability of these patients makes it extremely difficult to prepare for every scenario yet, there are some obvious factors that are so often overlooked in the furniture design of the assessment areas. Here are a few examples:
What ligature risks are present?
What could potentially be used as a weapon?
Can the furniture be easily moved about to block the door, smashed or thrown at somebody?
Are any sharp edges present?
Is the furniture flammable?
These samples are just the surface of the many considerations but until an incident happens, they are not always considered for. Bed sheets can be used as a noose, removable screws, staples or metal objects can become shanks, furniture can be used to blockade a door or as a thrown object and sharp edges are a danger to any physical struggle. The furnishing play a big part in this preparedness as they potentially present many of these risks.
Canadian facilities are finding an increase in Mental Health requirements and providing safe environments for this service is critical to the safety of the staff, patient and the public. A dedicated assessment room that is truly Code White Ready isn't as common as we might think.
Stat Medical Inc is a Canadian company that specializes in behavioral health and hospital furniture.