September 19, 2018

The new Code Surge: Everyone’s responsibility

Code Surge, developed in June this year, is Northern Health’s process for solving periods of peak demand in our Emergency Department.

Overcapacity in the emergency department can be a safety and quality issue and impacts both the patients waiting for a bed and those in the waiting room waiting to be seen. To address this, Northern Health developed a new code called Code Surge.

According to Debra Bourne, Divisional Director, this new initiative is unique to Northern Health.

“Having too many people in the ED impacts both patients and staff. It increases the waiting times, the length of stay and research has shown that it increases the clinical risk to the patients,” she said.

Northern identified that in situations where ED has overcapacity, an organisation wide response is required. The new Code Surge, just like Code Stroke or Code Blue is alerted throughout the organisation.

“Doctors get alerted through the paging system and we send SMS and e-mail notifications to other senior staff within the health service. From this, there are actions that each person and group needs to take,” Debra added.

Code Surge has been activated 10 times since its introduction and in the majority of occasions, the situation was resolved within 2 hours. This success is due to team work from all staff, both clinical and non-clinical.

In times of Code Surge, staff works extremely hard to ensure that our patients are cared for in the right place.