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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 331-332

Exploring the role of color-coding in ensuring delivery of quality-assured healthcare services

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College & Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission11-Oct-2014
Date of Acceptance02-Feb-2015
Date of Web Publication25-Jul-2017

Correspondence Address:
Shrivastava R Saurabh
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College & Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram 603108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1110-2098.211513

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How to cite this article:
Saurabh SR, Prateek SS, Jegadeesh R. Exploring the role of color-coding in ensuring delivery of quality-assured healthcare services. Menoufia Med J 2017;30:331-2

How to cite this URL:
Saurabh SR, Prateek SS, Jegadeesh R. Exploring the role of color-coding in ensuring delivery of quality-assured healthcare services. Menoufia Med J [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Apr 2];30:331-2. Available from: http://www.mmj.eg.net/text.asp?2017/30/1/331/211513

Globally, in the field of healthcare delivery, a color-coded approach is used in both diagnostic and curative fields under different initiatives to ensure better delivery of healthcare services [1]. Color coding is defined as the systematic approach of using multiple colors to provide support in categorization and recognition [1]. This approach assumes further importance in settings in which public health infrastructure is weak (limited human resource or support from stakeholders) [1],[2]. In fact, the use of color-coded approach is linked with multiple benefits such as diagnosis of health conditions, reduction in human errors, and even enables the involvement of parents in different ailments [1],[3].

The first and foremost application that has gained enormous attention is the use of color-coded growth charts in the field of malnutrition (which enables both diagnosis and assessment of improvement in health status) in children below 5 years of age [1],[3]. A similar sort of approach to detect malnutrition in children aged 1–5 years is by using Shakir's tricolored tape (red – undernourished; yellow – borderline; green – normal) for measuring the upper mid-arm circumference [4]. Furthermore, to allow standardized management of childhood illness, an internationally acclaimed approach is used under the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illness program (in which children are categorized into three different colors on the basis of the identified risk and accordingly managed) [1],[5].

In events of disaster, the triage approach (categorizing patients into different groups on the basis of the seriousness of injuries and chances of survival with prompt medical care) has been used [1],[6]. Use of cycle beads (a string of color-coded beads that indicates days of menstrual cycle) in the field of family planning is another cost-effective approach, free of any local or systemic side effects, to enable spacing between two successive pregnancies [7]. Even for the management of sexually transmitted infections, color-coded kits offer an interesting approach to reduce morbidity in settings in which there is no doctor [8].

To interrupt the transmission of tuberculosis, a color-coded approach has been adopted in most of the settings for the management of both adult and pediatric forms of tuberculosis [9]. Furthermore, color-coded bags have been used to ensure safe handling of biomedical waste and thus reduce risk to humans and environment [1],[10]. In addition, principles of color-coding finds application even in allowing assessment of the potency of the vaccines with the help of a vaccine vial monitor [11].

Despite multiple applications and extensive utility, the color-coded approach has its limitations such as limited number of identifiable colors, wrong color coding, and unsensitized healthcare workers [1],[2],[12]. Moreover, most of these limitations can be addressed by adequate orientation of healthcare workers as regards the use of different colors [1],[2],[12].

To conclude, the approach of color coding in healthcare sector possesses an enormous potential to improve the reach and quality of healthcare services.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Park K. Preventive medicine in obstetrics, paediatrics and geriatrics. In: Park K, editor. Textbook of preventive and social medicine. Jabalpur: Banarsidas Bhanot Publishers; 2009. 468–471, 495–496, 698–702  Back to cited text no. 1
American Psychological Association. APA statement on the use of color coding. Available at: http://www.apa.org/about/gr/science/advocacy/2007/color-coding.pdf [Accessed 22 September 2014].  Back to cited text no. 2
Oettinger MD, Finkle JP, Esserman D, Whitehead L, Spain TK, Pattishall SR, et al. Color-coding improves parental understanding of body mass index charting. Acad Pediatr 2009; 9:330–338.  Back to cited text no. 3
Chaturvedi M, Nandan D, Gupta SC. Rapid assessment of nutritional status of children in Agra district. Indian J Prev Soc Med 2006; 37:165–169.  Back to cited text no. 4
World Health Organization. Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); 2013. Available at: http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/child/imci/en/. [Accessed 25 September 2014].  Back to cited text no. 5
Ramesh AC, Kumar S. Triage, monitoring, and treatment of mass casualty events involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear agents. J Pharm Bioallied Sci 2010; 2:239–247.  Back to cited text no. 6
Cycle beads for fertility awareness: a method of natural family planning; 2013. Available at: http://www.familyplanningservices.org/fpswebsitehealthinfotopicssheets/pdf/Natural_Family_Planning.pdf. [Accessed 16 September 2014].  Back to cited text no. 7
Government of India. National guideline on prevention, management and control of reproductive tract infections including sexually transmitted infections. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; 2007.  Back to cited text no. 8
TBC India. Managing the RNTCP in your area – a training course (modules 1–4); 2011. Available at: http://tbcindia.nic.in/documents.html. [Accessed 22 September 2014].  Back to cited text no. 9
Jindal AK, Gupta A, Grewal VS, Mahen A. Biomedical waste disposal: a systems analysis. Med J Armed Forces India 2013; 69:351–356.  Back to cited text no. 10
Turner N, Laws A, Roberts L. Assessing the effectiveness of cold chain management for childhood vaccines. J Prim Health Care 2011; 3:278–282.  Back to cited text no. 11
Webster CS, Merry AF. Colour coding, drug administration error and the systems approach to safety. Eur J Anaesthesiol 2007; 24:385–386.  Back to cited text no. 12


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