Plain language emergency alert codes: The importance of direct impact statements in hospital emergency alerts


  • Kristopher J. Prickett, MS
  • Kay Williams-Prickett, PhD, RN



emergency codes, emergency management, healthcare preparedness


The nature of an emergency is not predictable, and no two emergencies are alike. In response to this unpredictable nature, healthcare facilities across the nation have adopted a system of emergency codes to notify staff of an emergent situation, often without alerting patients and visitors to the crises. However, the system of emergency codes varies significantly within most states and even within healthcare coalition regions. This variation in codes leads to not only the potential for staff confusion, considering many healthcare providers work within multiple healthcare centers, but also decreases the amount of transparency a healthcare center projects to its patients and visitors. The research conducted as part of this study indicated that an overwhelming majority of healthcare professionals would prefer voluntary plain language emergency code standardization to the current individual code systems.

Author Biographies

Kristopher J. Prickett, MS

Emergency Management Specialist, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, DC

Kay Williams-Prickett, PhD, RN

Professor, Department of Nursing, School of Health Professions and Wellness, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama


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How to Cite

Prickett, MS, K. J., and K. Williams-Prickett, PhD, RN. “Plain Language Emergency Alert Codes: The Importance of Direct Impact Statements in Hospital Emergency Alerts”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 16, no. 2, Mar. 2018, pp. 73-79, doi:10.5055/jem.2018.0356.