Ask an Expert: Code pink: Protecting our tiniest patients
Sarah A. Bradwisch MSN
Claire Conti MSN

Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!
October 2012 
Volume 10  Number 5
Pages 55 - 56
  PDF Version Available!

Q: A nurse working the night shift on a maternity unit notices an unauthorized person walking toward the exit door holding an infant in her arms. The nurse feels compelled to protect the baby but, at the same time, she's conflicted over her own safety and that of the other patients in her care. What should this nurse do?A: The nurse should call a code pink. When a code pink is called, it indicates an infant abduction is taking place in the hospital. Used by most hospitals in the United States, it's used to protect infants from removal by unauthorized persons and identify the physical description and actions demonstrated by someone attempting to kidnap an infant from a healthcare facility. Since 2008, more than half of the 252 infants abducted nationwide were taken from healthcare facilities. This crime is of particular concern to maternity and pediatric unit nurses who are on the frontline of preventing infant abduction. Maintaining preparedness for a code pink is an ongoing challenge and it's every nurse's responsibility to be vigilant in this effort.According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the typical abductor is: * female * between ages 12 and 50 * overweight * compulsive * frequently indicates that she has lost a baby or is unable to have a baby * usually lives in the community where the abduction has taken place * makes frequent visits to the pediatric or nursery unit before the abduction * frequently impersonates a nurse or other allied healthcare professional * usually plans the abduction * becomes familiar with healthcare staff, work routines, and the infant's parents * demonstrates a capability to provide good care to the baby after the abduction occurs.There's no guarantee that an infant abductor will fit this description, so prevention is the best defense against infant abductions.Since 1998, The Joint Commission has considered infant abduction a sentinel event. Given this fact, it's vital that nurses are trained and ready for

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