Quality & Safety

DCHA Quality Collaborative

Collaborative in Action

DCHA Emergency Management Committee Standardizes Series of Emergency Codes Across the District’s Hospitals

Emergency codes are important announcements to ensure facilities operate in accordance with their mission and to the best of their capabilities. The Department of Homeland Security released a report in 2008 citing the importance of using standardized plain language codes. The report writes, “The use of plain language (clear text) in emergency management and incident response is a matter of public safety, especially the safety of emergency management/response personnel and those affected by the incident. It is critical that all those involved with an incident know and use commonly established operational structures, terminology, policies and procedures. This will facilitate interoperability across agencies, organizations, jurisdictions and disciplines.” The guidelines for standardized emergency codes have also been promoted by The Joint Commission for events or threats that can inflict harm on hospital staff, patients and visitors.

The District of Columbia Hospital Association’s (DCHA) hospital leaders see the value in creating uniform systems that enable their staff to be adequately informed during an emergency as well as equipping visitors with adequate information to protect themselves. This was important for the District’s hospitals as many of our staff are employed by multiple hospitals and often work between facilities. The DCHA Emergency Management Committee (EMC) completed a standardization initiative to enhance the emergency preparedness and response efforts for District hospitals’ staff, the patients they serve, and the communities they protect.

Leveraging the collective expertise, the EMC reviewed all member hospital codes for a series of emergency events/alerts. The Committee agreed to use a combination of color and plain language following national trends and best practices. It was further determined the minimum requirement for implementation would be to standardize the nomenclature (with a focus on plain language) and definition for the select emergency codes across the hospitals. Each facility would be given the flexibility to designate their color code for the specific emergency as they deemed appropriate.

Collaborative Committees and Workgroups

Quality Collaborative Organizational Structure

About the Collaborative

  • The District of Columbia Hospital Association (DCHA) Quality Collaborative provides an advisory role on identification of priorities that lead to the District’s hospitals becoming a recognized leader in high quality, safe, and innovative patient care.
  • The Collaborative includes a core committee and workgroup structure to identify best practices and facilitate performance improvement activities.
  • Its efforts foster learning and education to improve health care quality, safety, and service across the District of Columbia.

Quality Collaborative Organizational Structure

Care Coordination Committee

The Care Coordination Improvement Workgroup develops a framework of best practices for addressing fragmentation in the healthcare continuum which results in poor service coordination and improper healthcare services utilization within the District of Columbia. Committee membership includes representatives from a wide group of health and social services stakeholders in the District invested in activities and information sharing across the continuum of services to achieve safer, more effective care.

Physician Leaders Committee

The Physician Leaders Committee serves as the principal resource and central forum to address challenges in service delivery and promote mindful solutions that ensure the District’s hospitals deliver high-quality, safe, innovative care for patients, employees, and their caregivers. Committee membership includes Chief Medical Officer and physician leader representatives from the District’s Hospitals and Health Systems.

Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Committee

The CNO Committee serves as the principal resource and central forum to address nursing care practice, workforce and clinical care challenges to ensure the District’s hospitals deliver high-quality, safe, patient-centered care while support all nurses providing care in District hospitals. Committee membership includes CNO representatives from the District’s Hospitals and Health Systems.

Emergency Management Committee (EMC)

The EMC serves as the principal resource to effectively plan and prepare for the delivery of healthcare services before, during and after an emergency through collaboration, strategic planning, and training and exercises.

Infectious Disease/Infection Prevention Committee (ID/IP)

The ID/IP Committee serves as the principal resource on viral, biologic, and healthcare-associated infections to develop proactive recommendations and response protocols. Committee membership includes infectious disease practitioners, epidemiology, and other hospital infection prevention experts from the District’s Hospitals and Health Systems.


The Quality Collaborative will call together taskforces to address specific quality and safety concerns requiring multi-stakeholder input to drive effective improvement efforts and achieve innovative results.