Code Blue Experiences


  1. Pamela Egan says

    Jeff, Thank you so much for this wonderful ACLS course. It certainly made me feel prepared. The quizzes were fantastic and the overall experience was pleasant. I appreciate you returning my call when I had a technical question. You have a very professional and efficient system. Bravo. I look forward to using your website again for my upcoming PALS course, thanks for the promotion code. Enjoy your day! Pam E.~

    • ACLS says

      Hi Pamela,
      Thanks so much for the encouraging feedback. I’m so glad that the site has been helpful for you. It was my privilege to be able to help you out. Take care! Kind regards, Jeff

  2. Cheryl Bearden says

    I am not a doctor or a nurse. I was a patient who had an event a couple of days ago that terrified me (It’s kind of funny now but not so much at the time). I have stage 3 kidney disease and go for regular blood work every few months. I had blood drawn Friday and went to my kidney doctor Tuesday to go over results. My doctor met me telling me to go immediately to our local hospital ER because my potassium was over 6 and that it was an emergency and that my heart could actually stop. He called the ER ahead to alert them and tell them I was on my way. I was petrified. They took me back immediately even though the waiting room was full and the triage nurse bumped me ahead of two other patients sitting just outside her triage room waiting for her since they seemed to think this was critical (we have a fairly small hospital in my town and there are only 3 triage rooms). The nurse had me lay on a table and started an EKG. When she finished she told me to take a seat just outside her room. Before I got to the door the intercom sounded: CODE BLUE, CODE BLUE TRIAGE ROOM 2. Wait….WHAT?? I was in triage room 2 and I knew what CODE BLUE meant! My first thought was that I had died during the EKG but didn’t realize I was dead (I had heard about things like that on some paranormal TV show I had watched!!). I turned around to see if my body was still on the table….it wasn’t. Then I looked down and wiggled my toes and that seemed to reassure me that I was still alive. There was a light above the door to my room that was flashing. The two patients that were sitting just outside the door that saw me go in and saw the flashing light and heard the announcement were sitting there with their eyes as big as saucers….most people know what a CODE BLUE means (one even said ‘Talk about the walking dead!’). Just then the double doors from back in the ER flew open and there must have been ten doctors, nurses and other personnel who came running (to bring me back to life?). A few seconds later CODE BLUE CANCELLED came over the intercom. Everyone disbursed. Nobody explained what had happened and I was too relieved to be alive to ask at the time. I was taken back to the ER shortly after and given several tests to make sure I was okay and a new lab test showed my potassium was normal. The ER doctor said he thought what may have happened was that because my original blood work was taken Friday afternoon at my doctor’s office, sent to an outside lab and may not have been actually tested until Monday, he explained that sometimes the blood can start to clot (or something like that) and might have produced a false reading. I’m glad my kidney doctor and the ER doctor erred on the side pf caution. I’m not mad at all that I got a CODE BLUE (like I said, it is funny now and if I ever write my autobiography, it will definitely be in my book) but I did wonder if this happens in hospitals very often and if so, how did it happen. Is there a panic button that is pushed by accident by the nurse or did she take the EKG leads off without turning off the EKG machine or what could have triggered the code. On a very positive note, I have several pounds to lose and this experience of REALLY thinking I might be dying has prompted me to buy a copy of The Mediterranean Diet this morning and I am serious about getting this extra weight off now. So, I’m actually very grateful to that triage nurse! If you can shed any light on how this happened I would appreciate it. Thanks!

    • ACLS says

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks so much for the very interesting comment. That was quite an experience.

      There’s really only one thing that can cause a false code blue like that. Somebody accidentally pushed the code blue button in the room or just outside of the room. It was probably been bumped accidentally.

      That has happened a couple times in the critical care unit that I work in, and it can be quite startling for the patient…. and staff who are not aware that it was an accident

      Hope you’re able to achieve your health goals.

      Kind regards,

  3. Naomi Dabbracci says

    Lesson learned:
    20 YO M in full arrest. Code called after sustained PEA and all H’s & T’s were addressed as we could. Mother brought into room and was updated, given time to grieve and be with her son. We were so busy trying to get him presentable for her that we FORGOT to shut off the monitor. It shows a sinus rhythm. ..
    She flipped out, understandably, and demanded we start to resuscitate again. Same outcome with lots of education. Turns out that patient had a congenital heart defect.
    Don’t do this. Bad form.

    • ACLS says

      Hi Naomi,

      Wow! That is an incredible story. We definitely have to be careful when it comes to end of life situations. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Kind regards, Jeff

  4. Simpson says

    Hello all,

    I recently was on a Code Blue in the field for a shooting victim. When we arrived on scene there was CPR in progress by the fire department. The fire department had their AED on, and the rhythm said no shock advised. I quickly applied my monitor, showing what I thought to be V-fib. I immediately shocked the patient and it put him into asystole. We continued CPR into our next rhythm check. Again, I saw V-fib, and shocked it putting him into asystole. I was very confused by this. I almost feel like I did more harm than good? I know protocols state to shock V-fib but it put him into asystole. He died at the hospital.

    My question is, have any of you encountered this? Have you shocked someone into asystole before?

    I hate to say this, but I feel some sort of responsibility and guilt.

    Was I maybe seeing a rhythm that was not V-fib? Thanks.

    • ACLS says

      I personally have never seen someone receive a defibrillation and asystole was the resulting rhythm.

      It is very unlikely that the shock you delivered was the cause of the person’s death.

      Without seeing the rhythm specifically, it’s hard to say exactly what was going on with the myocardium and with the electrical impulse of the heart.

      You must realize that asystole typically is what occurs when a heart muscle is dying from hypoxia and ischemia.

      Without knowing the full scenario and the extent of the injuries from the gun shot wound it would be hard to say exactly what happened. The most likely cause of death with any gunshot wound is tissue trauma and resulting blood loss.

      Kind regards,

  5. Derek says

    I witnessed my first code blue. I am in shock and can’t believe what I saw. I’m not big on hospitals but had to be there for a client as I was working that evening. I thought it was just a general routine I have been threw many times before. Waiting at the hospital with clients to be seen by a doctor or psych. For some reason i turned my head and saw the patients head tilt over and pushed back up and they were working on him in the next room. The chimes constantly dinging and when I went to grab some water from starting to feel dehydrated Iooked up and saw them working on him. I immediately felt faint and went into the bathroom calling my colleague then the heart started racing and i fell to the floor. He was younger, my age roughly and to see the condition he was in and yellow, bluish green skin made me falter! I keep on seeing these images and I am traumatized. I had to leave the department altogether and was still in shock from what I had seen. I was working and couldn’t just leave my client there but I couldn’t let my client see me in this state. Hospitals are a no no for me! i’m scared i’m going to have ptsd from this. I’ve never seen anything like it nor imagined that I would in my lifetime. I’ve seen my grandmother pass away but never felt fear like this, realizing how valuable life is and can be taken away from you in an instant and not so pleasant way. I checked in about 30 minutes later and they said the code blue was over. Given the shape he was in I don’t think he made it 🙁 I can’t believe it. I’m fearing i’m going to keep on remembering this and made me feel ill and scared.

    • ACLS says

      For those who have not been mentally prepared beforehand for this type of emergency can be quite traumatic. For the health care provider, it is important that prior training prepares them for what they will experience. Mental and physical preparation helps the provider handle this situation with calm and calculated interventions which will hopefully lead to improved outcomes and lives saved. Thanks for sharing your story. Kind regards, Jeff

  6. KARYN HAGAN says

    I was treating an older female that we thought may be septic due to recurring UTIs. Pt was sent by the nursing home because she was altered and they thought she may have had a ” cardiac event” because she was not talking like she normally does. EMS performed a 12 lead with no unusual findings. So we began to test for infection. All vitals with in normal limits . While I stepped out to run a ED lab test the pt went into polymorphic tachycardia of course we called a code got her all hooked up and were about to shock as were giving her an fast IV push of 4 mg of Mag. all of a sudden she converted just like that . We watched her for 30 minutes put her on a Mag drip Pt became responsive and was up and talking. Sent her to CICU and she went home 3 days later. No sepis and no after effects of the code…it was awesome .

    • ACLS says

      Wow! Great job. And to see Magnesium deficiency effects and its treatment in action. That’s great. Thanks for sharing!

      Kind regards, Jeff

  7. jasper57 says

    I was a Respiratory Therapist at the time working with vented pt’s. This pt had a strong cough that would dislodge his trach tube at times and RRT/RN would push back into place . I was walking by at the same time his RN was calling a Code Blue. This time the trach was not going to be pushed back. I asked for an ET tube cut the ties on the trach and placed the ET tube just past the balloon and inflated the cuff, held the tube and ambued . No Comprehensions required. Pulmonary Dr replaced the trach tube. All was well. I was in the wright place at the wright time.

  8. H. Morgan says

    One patient came into our hospital’s trauma unit. Male in his mid twenties and he was breathing rapidly. He was tachy. His RR was around 30 or so. He had penetrating trauma to his chest from a knife. The second he went into cardiac arrest the Trauma surgeon cracked opened the chest, a rare procedure known as an emergency thoracotomy. The cardiac surgeon arrived from his pager and he quickly gowned up. Both surgeons were efficient and managed to repair the cardiac damage. I never seen this procedure in my life as a RN. It was quite rare and even the Trauma residents were surprised. Unfortunately for the male patient he died later that night. Quite the bloodshed.

  9. Jeff with admin. says

    From Theresa RN,

    I watched a pt go flat line when he went pale and passed out after a cataract surgery. I called for help, lowered the hob, and while I was lowering the height of the bed, I gave a precordial thump. There was a spike from the thump as witnessed by another nurse and immediate return of pulse. By the time the bed was at a height to do CPR, pt’s color was already returning, and there was a pulse. This precordial thump worked well.

  10. jhansen says

    We had a 3 yr old male brought in by parents, alert/appropriate, after falling into an indoor swimming pool. They pulled him from the bottom, blue, was able to resus at poolside. After 2 hours of observation of child appropriate, playful, child fell asleep in moms arms. Here’s the part I still don’t understand…. The child suddenly woke up, began vomiting up what looked like apple peels. Apparently it was lung tissue? Anyway, the child then coded, rhythm returned, Intubated, and sent to higher level of care. Eventually taken off life support and passed. Question: Was it the chlorine in the pool that caused to tissue damage? I assume the “falling asleep” may have been brain swelling? And why after being stable for so long this happened? Its been a few years and I have yet to find an answer to exactly what physically took place in this situation. Any thoughts?

    • Jeff with admin. says

      “Dry drowning? Or secondary drowning? Dry drowning (Gardner, 2017, webmd), the water doesn’t reach the lungs, instead while the child is swimming and breathing in the water, the water touches the vocal cords, causes spasms and eventually closes the vocal cords. Hence: breathing and the lack of oxygen to the brain: child sleeping. Secondary drowning (Gardner, 2017, webmd) the water reaches the lungs and causes pulmonary edema. Both conditions are rare, but can happen.”

      Dorothy states:
      “WOW! Was there not an autopsy done??!! A head and chest CT done pre or post-mortem???!!!!! I’m curious now! I’ve never heard of dry drowning, and what the heck was the source of that bizarre so-called emesis?? It wouldn’t be emesis if from the lungs…..whoa, this is mind-boggling!” I’d also expect that apple-leel like substance to be sent to lab to be analyzed.”

      Any feedback or thoughts about these things?

      Kind regards,

  11. Alan Mclean says

    Recently I was the nominated team leader for resus in our ED. During an arrest, i was trying to team lead but found that the [two] doctors at the airway were trying to team lead such that I was standing there trying to lead but looking and feeling somewhat idiotic :(:( . The patient was in asystole. The ED consultant who had come in and taken over the airway decided to intubate within first 2-3 minutes of arrest or earlier. I warned him that we should not interrupt compressions and he grunted. The patient was on a soft mattress so I called for a hard board, but nobody seemed to know what i meant and nobody knew where to get one. The problem was that the experienced resus nurses had been distracted by assisting with the intubation [which should not have occurred so early] and setting up ventilator. When a small board was finally brought in the student nurse gave it to me as she didnt know what to do with it. Nobody was listening to me when I asked for it to be put under the patient so I had to put it on the floor. The nurse who was operating the defibrillator was standing between me and the Zoll forcing me to look up at the monitor which I thought was linked to the Zoll : the connection was not reliable and I could not see that the patient had gone into VF necessitating a shock. The others could see the Zoll and shocked the patient. Anyway: we got ROSC and were able to transfer the patient intubated and ventilated to ICU with a BP and pulse. Usually we do things better, but this case illustrates to me the need for team leader to be in control. I did not have control, and short of shouting at people, don’t really know how I could have clawed that control back. I did stay calm and I think this is always the best way to remain during the stress of arrests.

  12. Elizabeth Parish says

    I have been a cardiac nurse 27 years. I am a shy person. My first job was in an arrhythmia unit. We had many codes involving pulseless V Tac and V Fib. Many close calls for patients. I knew in the first three months it was my calling to try and save these people. I might be shy in my life —but I am fearless in emergency. I want to know we did all we could for the patients.

  13. Jeff with admin. says

    This was posted by a man named Ralph on the ventricular fibrillation page. He had quite an experience.

    “– From an “End User”

    Good Afternoon,

    I am one of the 4% of survivors of a VFib event in 2014. I’m proud of my EMS team and doctors at UCSD Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center in La Jolla, CA.

    My family thanks all who participated in my resuscitation and care. This is one very happy and blessed of the 2000 additional lives that might be saved each year in North America.

    Please do all that you can. My team gave it their all. 9 epi’s, 11 shocks and amniodarone was my “30 minute E ticket” to a Vfib death to life again.


  14. Mkourtneym says

    Code Blue. Be prepared to take lead instead of surrendering to the doc who is responding to the code. It’s an easy role to slip out of the moment a doc arrives. However, the doctor can’t place bilateral chest tubes and run the code too.

    • Alan Mclean says

      I agree 100% and think nurses should do this: it should be discussed at departmental level so that there are no misunderstandings on the floor.

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