A range of one-word terms are often used to describe a patient's condition in the United States. The American Hospital Association advises physicians to use the following one-word conditions in describing a patient's condition to those inquiring, including the media.

Patient awaiting physician and/or assessment.

Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious and comfortable. Indicators are excellent.

Vital signs are stable and within normal limits. Patient is conscious, but may be uncomfortable. Indicators are favorable.

Vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is seriously ill. Indicators are questionable.

Vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.

Vital signs are persistently absent. Patient is unconscious. Indicators are extremely unfavorable.

The word "stable" is used more commonly by news media. Conditions where a patient has a favorable prognosis or stable vital signs. The American Hospital Association has advised doctors not to use the word "stable" either as a condition or in conjunction with another condition, especially one that is critical, because a critical condition inherently implies unpredictability and the instability of vital signs

Chicago Fire Department and area suburban fire departments use color coded tags to triage victims for treatment and transportation demands. Many times the physical tags aren't used. For example if there are three victims from a crash, the paramedic's or battalion chief's radio callout might use the sentence "Two Code Red and one Code Yellow" with no actual tags used. In a true multi-casualty setup, the tags are used.

RED TAGS - IMMEDIATE ADVANCED LIFE SUPPORT REQUIRED for victims who cannot survive without immediate treatment, but have a chance of survival. Often synonymous with critical condition or life-threatening.

YELLOW TAGS - Victims are treated and under observation for indication of worsening condition. 'Yellows' are not in immediate danger of death and are considered stable, unless observations prove otherwise. These victims will still require hospital care and would be treated immediately under normal circumstances without the overload of a mass casualty situation. Often synonymous with serious condition, but not life-threatening.

GREEN TAGS - Victims are ambulatory. The victims can wait for treatment and are considered "walking wounded" who will need medical care at some point, after more critical injuries have been treated in a mass casualty situation. Often synonymous with "Good Condition" and not life-threatening.

ACK TAGS - Victims are deceased or have obvious fatal injuries that are so extensive they are not likely to survive given the care or resources that are available. Resources would be more likely to go to care for 'Reds' in a mass casualty situation.

WHITE TAGS - Victims are dismissed with minor injuries with no requirement of a doctor's care. White tags are not used in common practice (included for academic purposes).

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