5 Mistakes Code Black Teams Make

It is vital for healthcare organisations to maintain specially-trained code grey and code black teams that are up-to-date on company safety procedures and policies. These teams help to reduce risks created by agitated people within the organisation and therefore ensure the wellbeing of everyone involved.

Unfortunately, not all code black teams receive the proper training or follow the best procedures to reduce the occurrence of altercations and deal with them effectively. When the effectiveness of the code grey and black teams’ procedures is reduced, the level of safety across the organisation decreases.

In this post, we’ll discuss common mistakes to help you improve your code black team procedures. 


What is a code black team vs a code grey team?

In the healthcare sector, altercations can be labelled as code grey or code black scenarios. A code grey occurs when a patient is putting themselves or others in harm’s way and their behaviour needs to be de-escalated. A code black occurs when a member of the public poses a security risk to those in the organisation (staff, volunteers, patients, etc.). 

Because these two scenarios are different, it is important for a healthcare organisation to have both a code grey and code black team trained in dealing with each type of scenario. For everyone’s safety, it’s important that the code black team is trained on proper procedures, has drills regularly, and understands the implications of their actions. 


The 5 biggest mistakes code black teams make


1. The team doesn’t practise drills

Many organisations test their code black systems but fail to drill them. This is an issue because it means the code black team will be out of practise. When a code black occurs, they will lack the necessary skills to deal with the situation. To avoid this mistake, take your code black team out for a few hours every couple of months to practise different code black drills, review previous incidents and set up better ways to respond to code black scenarios.


2. The team members’ roles are unclear

A code black is called, and the next thing you know, 10 people turn up. Do these people know how to work as a team to effectively deal with the situation? 

It is important that clearly defined roles are set up so each team member knows exactly what to do and how to work together – for everyone’s safety. This ensures the scenario is dealt with quickly and effectively. Resolution’s Code Black Training includes up to six roles for a code black team, depending on the healthcare facility:


Communicator The lead team member on the restraint team, and first point of communication with the consumer.
Left Arm* The team member in charge of securing the left arm of the consumer.
Right Arm* The team member in charge of securing the right arm of the consumer.
Guide/Observer The team member approaching from the back, helping to coordinate the Left and Right Arm, to help move the consumer during the restraint; observing what is happening, to contact police and escalate the situation if needed.
Clinical Staff The team member to administer medication and check the well-being of the consumer.
Controller  The team member to handle doors and other people/consumers in the area.

* Only required if doing restraints.


3. Code black incidents aren’t reviewed

It is important to review every code black post-incident to see what could improve, how it was handled, and to give feedback on the roles. This means that every time an incident occurs, the code black team’s procedures and skills are improved, increasing safety every time. Also, by reviewing incidents, the team can identify patterns and see how the organisation might prevent future incidents before they occur. 


4. Other staff lack awareness

All staff should be aware of the code black team, including who will be coming to support them if they press the code black button. Why? So they will know exactly what will occur and how the situation will play out, increasing their ability to help in the situation and giving them peace-of-mind to continue with the work they need to do. When staff know their safety is paramount and risk is reduced, they can more effectively do their jobs and feel better in the workplace. 


5. They don’t focus on preventative de-escalation

It’s always better to not need a code black team at all – preferably, your organisation will be free of confrontation. But if there is a confrontation, there are ways to de-escalate using verbal techniques to prevent a physical altercation. It is always best to train your code black team on verbal de-escalation as a preferred method over physical techniques. Being able to rely on reducing the amount of physical incidents means that the safety and peace-of-mind of the entire organisation can be increased. 


Need help training your code black team and creating drills for incidents? We’re excited to work with you. 

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