The Importance of Colour Coded Syringe Labels

The Importance of Colour Coded Syringe Labels

Consistency and clarity of syringe labelling are important elements in the prevention of medical errors. Colour coding syringe labels was first introduced in the UK in 2003 when the new standards for labels were introduced by the Royal College of Anaesthetists. The aim was to standardise colour coding for syringe labelling to prevent medication mix-ups and provide easy to use classification identification system for syringes.

Drug errors are extremely uncommon and represent a small part of anaesthesia problems but still have the potential to seriously morbidity. All drug labels are now colour coded to match the drug type to ensure no danger to a patient by being given the wrong type of drug and treatment.

The colour coding is as follows…

Colour Code     Drug Classification

Red                     Non-Depolarising Relaxants
Blue                    Narcotics
Yellow                Induction Agents
Grey                   Local Anaesthetics
Purple                Vasopressors
Orange              Hypnotics
Salmon              Major Tranquilizers
Green                Anti-Cholinergic Agents
White                Other Agents

Please note some labels can have stripe markings on them on top of a white label. See below…

Orange              Hypnotic Antagonists
Red                    Relaxant Antagonists
Purple               Hypotensive Antagonists
Blue                   Narcotic Antagonists

Our upcoming blogs will outline label products available and guidelines for the use of syringes for all healthcare providers and ward staffs who are involved in the management of critically ill patients. This includes Operating Theatres, Intensive Care Units (ICU), Coronary Care Units (CCU) and other areas with critically ill patients.