What is Code HELP?

Sometimes, a loved one can detect subtle changes in a patient that might be overlooked by a nurse or other caregiver.

Code HELP is the emergency response system, used in Baptist Health hospitals, that offers an additional layer of patient safety. Both patients and their family members can use it to bring a team of medical professionals to the patient’s room for immediate assistance.

At first, the concept may seem unnecessary, begging the question: Why would you need an in-hospital 911-type of response?

“Yes, you already have all the caregivers that you need,” explains Geri Schimmel, director of Baptist Health’s Patient Safety Partnership. “But in that rare instance when you feel that you are not being heard, and that you feel that you need someone else to come for an emergency, this is your 911. It is another safety net for you to be able to call.”

The impetus for the nationwide movement to implement Code HELP, or Code H, was borne out of the tragedy behind Josie King, an 18-month-old girl who died as a result of a hospital error in 2002 in Baltimore.

The toddler had been receiving treatment for burns from a bathtub accident. She had been healing well, but she died two days before her scheduled discharge. The hospital staff failed to recognize that the child had become seriously dehydrated, despite pleas by the mother that something was wrong.

After her death, Sorrell King, the girl’s mother, became a prominent patient safety advocate. Because of her diligence in spreading the word, hospitals across the country started implementing Code H or Code HELP.

Baptist Health implemented its system in 2008, early in the movement by hospitals to create Rapid Response Teams (RRTs), essentially medical SWAT teams. Unlike the traditional “code” team, the RRT intervenes before the patient experiences respiratory or cardiac arrest.

“If someone had listened to her (Sorrell King) or she had been able to initiate a call for help, she would have gotten help soon for her daughter,” Ms. Schimmel said. “But people there were not listening and didn’t believe something was wrong. She advocated that a family member should initiate a call for help.”

When should you call a Code HELP?

  • When a noticeable, serious change in the patient’s medical condition occurs and the healthcare team is not there at the bedside.
  • When, after speaking with a nurse or other medical professional, you still have concerns about your loved one’s care or treatment.
  • When you detect a subtle change in your loved one or you think something is not right, or you feel your concerns have not been adequately addressed by the medical professionals.

  • To Call Code HELP

    For patients in a Baptist Health hospital, the process for calling Code HELP is:

  • Dial #7777 from any hospital phone.
  • Tell the operator, “This is a Code HELP. The patient is in room #___.”
  • Ms. Schimmel says that Code HELPs are rarely called, but hospital staff and switchboard operators are regularly trained on what it means and the process that follows when a code is initiated.

    “While we don’t see a lot of Code HELPs called in our hospitals, we want our patients and their families to understand that they are empowered to act on behalf of their loved one,” she said. “Whenever you’re admitted to one of our hospitals, your nurse will teach you and your family about Code Help. We’re partners in your care and your protection.”

    For more information, read about Baptist Health’s Quality, Safety & Service.

    Healthcare that Cares

    With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

    Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

    I want to see the site in English

    Continue In English

    Quiero ver el sitio en Español

    Continuar en español