Patient Safety

Patient Safety: Understanding What Your Color-coded “Alert” Wristband Means

Statewide Patient Safety Initiatives

Patient safety is a top priority for Arkansas hospitals. We improve patient safety in several ways, one of which includes using the same colors for “alert” wristbands. This initiative is being implemented not only throughout Arkansas, but also in other states across the nation.

What is a Color-coded “Alert” Wristband?

Alert wristbands are used in hospitals to quickly communicate a certain healthcare status or an “alert” that a patient may have. This is done so every staff member can provide the best care possible, even if they do not know that patient. The different colors have certain meanings. The words for the alerts are also written on the wristband to reduce the chance of confusing the alert message.

What do the different colors mean?

There are three different color-coded “alert” wristbands that we are going to discuss because they are the most commonly used.

  • Red

    • Allergy: If a patient has an allergy to anything—food, medicine, dust, grass, pet hair, ANYTHING—tell us.
  • Yellow

    • Fall Risk: Sometimes a person may become weakened during his/her illness or following surgery. Patients with yellow wristbands need to be assisted when walking.
  • Purple

    • Do Not Resuscitate: Some patients have expressed an end-of-life wish, and we want to honor that. This can also be called an “allow a natural death” wish.

Involving Patients and Family Members

It is important that the patient and family know these colors and their meanings, because you are the best source of information.

Keep Us Informed

If there is information we do not know, such as a food allergy or a tendency to lose balance and almost fall, share that with us because we want to provide the best and safest healthcare to all of our patients.

Also, if you have an Advance Directive, tell us. An Advance Directive tells your doctor what kind of care you would like if you become unable to make medical decisions. We want to respect and honor a patient’s wishes, and that is done best when we have all of the information.

Arkansas Healthcare providers are “banding together” to make Arkansas the safest state in the nation. We accomplish this goal by working together on statewide projects in an endeavor to use the same methods or processes, like color-coded wristbands. Our hospital is proud to be a supporter of this collaborative work, making healthcare safer and better for patients and their families


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