Colored Bars Outside of a Physician's Examination Room

Outside of the examination rooms in my doctor’s office (nay every doctor’s office I’ve ever seen) is a set of colored plastic bars near the door. There are about six. The lowest one is the shortest and is probably five inches long. Each bar above it is, in succession, a different color and is about 1/2 inch longer than the one below it.

I assume that these bars indicate patient care in some way (for example: whether his/her vitals have been taken, whether he/she is contagious, whether he/she is undressed). Is there a standard for all of those bars across every doctor’s office in the U.S., or is each physician free to set his/her own system? How do you actually derive information from them? Does the color of the bar indicate something, or is it the bar’s position (topmost, lowest, etc.)?


Can’t answer about the use of colors, but in my Dr.s office they are different lengths so they “nest” nicely when folded back against the wall. They are not just straight bars, but have a “flag” or tab on the end.

I’m going out on a limb here, but my wife used to work in a dermatologist office which had the same kind of colored bars outside the exam rooms. When I asked about it, she said they were supposed to indicate male or female, dressed or undressed, and a couple other details. I don’t think they were actually used there, though, and I don’t have a cite. So, whatever. :stuck_out_tongue:

There is no set standard, and each office invents their own system tweaks anyway. Not all medical offices have them–some use lights, or notes or chart positions. Or computers.