In response to a new federal law that requires workplaces to simplify the process for staff, patients or visitors using hospital phones to reach emergency assistance via 911, the MGH has updated its telecommunication systems to no longer require callers to dial ‘9’ before dialing 911.

Effective immediately, callers using hospital landline telephones – as well as other multiline telephone systems, such as those found in other hospitals and office buildings – can dial 911 directly to reach emergency assistance. At the MGH, dialing 9-911 will continue to work as well.

For all other outside calls, callers are still required to dial ‘9 then 1’ before being directed outside the hospital phone system. However, on a system that requires staff to dial ‘9 then 1’ before an outside number, it is increasingly more likely that 911 may be dialed in error.

With this new process, the MGH Police, Security and Outside Services, and Emergency Preparedness Departments urge staff to keep the following in mind when placing calls:

  • Please be vigilant and pay special attention when dialing outside lines to avoid accidentally dialing 911.
  • If you do accidentally dial 911 – do not hang up. Stay on the line and tell the operator you dialed 911 by mistake.
  • All 911 calls are alerted and reported in the MGH’s telephone system to Police and Security, so staff often will receive a follow up call from Police and Security after a call to 911.

“We hope this change will make it easier for those who require emergency assistance to reach 911 directly,” says David Reisman, executive director of Emergency Preparedness. “We encourage you to share and discuss this information with all staff members.”

Staff should contact Tom Mahoney, MGH Police and Security, with questions.