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Being Confident during a Code Blue for Nurses | ACLS BLS CPR

No code blue will be perfect or textbook, but if we all do our best in our roles – the outcome of the patient will be better. Follow these best tips to be the most confident code team member.

*(updated Jan 2019)* There has been a BIG announcement from the American Heart Association about CPR changes coming in 2020. Please read RQI® 2020 Launch and tell me what you think this means for nurses!

Let’s get you equipped for feeling confident in a code setting……I promise you can do this

Many nurses and techs are afraid of a code blue / code rescue/ rapid response. Just the sound of the overhead speaker strikes fear in their little healthcare loving hearts. I don’t want you to feel afraid. I want you to feel CAPABLE and CONFIDENT in your skills.

I strongly believe in empowering my fellow nurses. We are the frontline of defense. “In the 23 hours and 55 minutes that your doctor is NOT in your hospital room – it will be a nurse saving your life!” – unknown

Here‘s an article I wrote about the BEST NURSING GEAR. It is the nursing essentials for any bedside nurse.

Consider this when running to a Code

One day, you will take care of my grandparents, my parents, my kids, my friends, and maybe MYSELF one day! I want you all to be the best nurses you can be and have a passion for this important super hero role you’ve taken on. You can’t just be loving and caring when things are going well….you also need to be ready for the patient to deteriorate. It’s time to call a rapid response or a code blue….

Call a Rapid Response / Code Rescue:

Call a Rapid Response / Code Rescue when the patient’s condition is worsening and you need help right away. This can be severe unexplained pain, a super high or low blood pressure or heart rate, a change in heart rhythm with symptoms, or syncope (fainting) while still breathing and has a pulse, etc.

Call a Code Blue:

You should call a Code Blue when the patient is NOT breathing or has no pulse/heartbeat. Please don’t waste more than 10 seconds searching for a pulse.

Learn it, and remember

Learn exactly HOW to call a code blue in your hospital and have a list/badge/cheat sheet of all the codes. Ask your trainer/preceptor multiple times. Practice it in your head. Make it second nature so that when you need to call a code blue, you won’t need to hesitate to try to remember how. You got this!

Code Clarity

      • The most Common codes you will call are Code Blue: (no pulse not breathing)

      • Code Rescue/Rapid Response: (Change in status, need immediate assistance),

      • Code Green/Gray: Combative Person – need man power.

    Learn what number to dial and commit it to memory. The most empowering thing is knowing how/where to get help. When you call the code line, speak clearly and say “Code ____ to Room __ please”. They may ask you to repeat it for clarification and confirmation. Great, now it’s the code blue announced and help is coming!

    What if it is not your assigned patient? What if you are in a separate area and you hear a code being called overhead, do you run and hide? No! You are an amazing and smart nurse. You are capable and you can help! Run TOWARDS the room. Don’t be intimidated. With my tips and lists you can be the most confident code team member. Get ready to impress the only person you need to impress….YOURSELF

    What needs to be done in the first 3 minutes of a code blue emergency

    -Initiate compressions if Code Blue. (Elbows locked, hard & fast guys!) Always double check the patient’s code status. (They might
    not want to come back, check if they have a DNR bracelet or order)

    -Bring the code cart into the room

    -Someone needs to take the role of recorder and start filling out the Code Blue form or Rapid Response Form.

    -Make sure to put the patient on the lifepak monitor to see the heart rate and rhythm.

    -Put the defib pads on if patient is super bradycardic or in V-tach.

    -Give the patient on Oxygen, Venti-mask, or Non-rebreather – as needed. The same person managing the airway/oxygen should
    also set up suction in the room and will be the respiratory/intubation helper. They will help assist to ambu-bag or suction.

    -Vitals! Get a manual BP cuff if the patient is severely hypo/hypertensive.

    -Get a temperature and a blood sugar for the record.

    -One Nurse should check for IV access/Central line access. Flush the lines with saline to make sure they are patent and announce
    that they will give meds.

    – One Nurse should have the WOW/computer & patient chart open ready to put in new orders. This nurse can also be ready to
    answer questions about the patient’s recent labs or scans.

    – Call the attending MD, but hopefully an ER doc or ARNP or whoever your hospital designated will show up to help run the code.

    -From then on everyone stays in their role and awaits orders from the MD/ARNP who is running the code.

    Don’t forget! All of these things can happen simultaneously during a code blue.

    FYI. Total side note… This is the Stethoscope I’ve used for the last 5 years. It’s super lightweight to wear around your neck for hours at a time. It has excellent sound quality (for those mysterious lung sounds). It also comes in lots of different colors and won’t break your budget!

    Assign each Nurse a Job

    If each nurse comes in, grabs a role and waits for instructions – that is the ideal code team! There will be times where it feels chaotic and staff needs to be told to get in a role. This delegation can come from the charge nurse or the coding patient’s nurse. If a code is called on your patient and other nurses come running in – give each nurse a job! Take command and organize your code in the first 30 seconds.

        1. Take over compressions
        2. Do meds, check the IV access
        3. Set up suction and get the O2 connected or put together the ambubag
        4. Put him/her on the lifepak monitor. Place the defib pads if indicated
        5. Get a set of vitals. BP/RR/O2sat/HR/Temp and blood sugar
        6. Get a computer and open the patient’s chart
        7. Go be with the family outside the room
        8. Be our supply runner when we need something

      At the end of the of the Shift

      Once you have a job – stick to it till the end. Remember to trust your training. You have done this before. Read and reread the steps above. Keep them in your pocket and refer to them during a code. Also, a great thing to note is that a lot of the preliminary things can be done by a Nurse Aide OR a Nurse.

      A Tech can get vitals, blood sugar, do compressions, and slide the code cart in. They are your 3rd arm in patient care, and we should be so thankful for techs! After a code, look around the room to see the equipment they used. See how the ambubag is put together. Look through the code cart drawers. It is important to get familiar with what is inside each drawer and how your hospital organizes code carts.

      But from all my travels and nursing experience – it’s pretty much the same everywhere. There are only a few important things inside a code cart. There are top drawers for meds, IV supplies, line kits, resp supplies. You can learn and memorize each drawer after exploring it only a few times. It’s also a good idea to learn the lifepak. Ask someone to teach you how to pace, defibrillate, and print a strip.

      If you want any help, I have a great digital download called The New Nurse Survival Guide. It has tips, report sheet examples, how to give the best report, how to do a 5 min morning assessment, a daily flow of your shift print out, quick EKG interpretations, how to talk to doctors, and more! It’s literally everything you need for a good foundation as an RN.

      P.S. Here is my post on “Tools for Successfully Managing Night Shift“. Night shift can be rough on the nurse and their family. Here are a few tips to make life a little bit easier.

      You can do this.

      I believe in you.

      Get the New Nurse Survival Guide Here

      The complete guide to bedside nursing!


      Check out my course: HOW TO GIVE THE BEST REPORT.

      The 8 Modules in this course teach you to: 

      – Initiate Report

      – Courteous Tips the Next Shift Won’t Tell You

      – Give Perfect Concise Report

      – How to Call & Talk to Doctors

      – How to Give Report to other Facilities

      – How to Give Report when Going on Break

      – How to Give Report to Other Floors

      CLICK HERE TO SEE THE COURSE! 

      CLICK HERE TO UPDATE YOUR ACLS WITH THE AHA

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