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Monroe Clinic joins color wristband effort
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MADISON - Nearly 80 percent of the hospitals in Wisconsin have met the voluntary standard set by the Wisconsin Hospital Association to standardize their color-coded patient alerts by March 1.

Color-coded wristbands and other visual communication tools used in hospitals alert physicians, nurses and other health care professions to a patient's unique needs and wishes. Wristbands, stickers and placards are commonly used to identify allergy warnings, fall risks or do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.

There has not been a standard that offers direction to hospitals as to what color identifies which alert. Many health professionals work in multiple health care settings, so they must memorize multiple, sometimes conflicting, color-coded alert systems. Wisconsin and Minnesota have standardized to the same set of colors, while Illinois, Michigan and Indiana are currently reviewing their alert systems.

The standardized colors chosen for alerts in Wisconsin are:

• White or Clear for Patient Identification

• Purple for Do Not Resuscitate

• Red for Allergy

• Yellow for Fall Risk

Hospitals are asking patients to remove "social cause" wristbands, which can also be a potential source of confusion for care givers.

Area hospitals that have standardized their color-coded alerts include:

• Beloit Memorial Hospital, Beloit

• Memorial Hospital of Lafayette Co., Darlington

• Mercy Health System Corporation, Janesville

• Meriter Hospital, Madison

• Monroe Clinic, Monroe

• Southwest Health Center, Platteville

• Upland Hills Health, Inc., Dodgeville

For more information related to the color code alert standards and patient safety, visit: www.wiCheckPoint. org. Click on consumer information.