Locally, Heartland has already changed its codes to comply with the recommendations.
Depending on where you're at, they can all mean different things.
"In federal buildings a code black is a child abduction," said Wallace Patrick, Heartland's Emergency Management Director. "Here at Heartland a code black was a child abduction."
A recent decision by the Missouri Hospital Association is hoping to change the discrepancies.
The new codes use plain words instead of colors.
"Armed intruder is an armed intruder," Patrick said. "Tornado warning is a tornado warning."
Although not required, many hospitals have already changed to meet the Association's guidelines. Heartland changed their codes on January 1st.
Jennifer Redman has been a registered nurse with Heartland for 33 years.
"I think this is beneifical because John Q. Public that's in the hospital, that's not aware of the hospital lingo, will understand the urgency," Redman said.
And although Redman used the old system for more than three decades, she said the transition has come fairly easy.
"When we hear them call over head the first time you kind of have to think about it for a second," she said.
Heartland trained its staff leading up to the transition to get everybody used to the new system.
The Missouri Hospital Association is hoping that all hospitals in the state adopt the new codes by the end of 2014. The guidelines are part of a national trend in hopes of making them universal at hospitals around the country.