Paging Dr. Euphemism

I am currently entertaining myself while keeping my mother company in the hospital by reading up on the different emergency codes that come over the loudspeaker, which are intentionally cryptic so as to protect patient privacy and stave off mass panic.  The color codes are not standard, aside from Code Red generally meaning “fire”; there are periodic moves to get all hospitals, at least in a region, on the same system.  But here are some fun ones (also mostly not standard):

Paging Dr. Firestone: Fire.

Paging Dr. Strong: Someone in [location] is in need of physical restraint

Paging Dr. Brown: Security threat to personnel

Paging Dr. Stork/Dr. Caesar: OB emergency

Paging Dr. Sands: Fire.  This comes from public transport in the UK, which has an automated message asking “Inspector Sands” to report to a particular location, in which something is on fire or in danger of being blown up.  This, in turn, comes from old theatre slang, in which fire was put out with sand buckets, and so Mr. Sands would be called for so as not to frighten the performers or audience.


3 Responses to “Paging Dr. Euphemism”

  1. -Ed.

    I didn’t know any of these! They’re great… now I’m reflecting on how lovely it is that I have spent so little time in hospitals that I haven’t heard Doctor Euphemism paged.


    • Jessica

      I have, unfortunately, spent some time in hospitals, so I’ve heard some of those codes. Of course, “Code Blue” is typically used when a patient is in immediate danger of turning blue from lack of oxygen (or dying). The hospital I spent the most time in used “Doctor Red,” rather than “Code Red” to indicate a fire ?.

  2. Jed

    I had never heard of these—thanks for posting about them!

    (Reminds me indirectly that when I was a kid, my parents didn’t want to have to pay for brief informational phone calls, so they would send each other coded messages by calling collect and using a name that rhymed with the time they would be home. “Collect call for a Mr. Tate; will you accept the charges?”)


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