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Suffolk staff nurse’s green cup innovation rolled out across hospital trust

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The idea of staff nurse to use coloured cups to indicate the presence of medication is being adopted on all wards by her hospital trust in East Anglia.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust described it as a “simple change that can make a big difference”, by improving patient safety and outcomes, but for little extra cost.

“We implemented Kate’s innovation across all hospital wards”

Marie Marfleet

Green cups are now being used to signify a drink containing soluble medication, to avoid it being tipped away by accident and to ensure nurses encourage patients to consume the whole amount.

This cheap and effective innovation was submitted into a “freedom to improve” suggestion box by staff nurse Kate Ramsey, who first came up with the idea while studying at the University of Suffolk.

“When doing my nursing degree, I realised that the cups used for the water fountains, and for patients’ medications look exactly the same, with nothing to distinguish between them,” she said.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Staff nurse’s green cup innovation adopted by hospital trust

Kate Ramsey

“I thought it would be good to have a system in place which easily flags which fluids have soluble medication within them, to ensure they are not accidentally thrown away, and that they are identified as a priority for the patient to consume,” she said.

“I joined the trust around 18 months ago, and never forgot about my idea, so decided to put it in the staff suggestion box,” said Ms Ramsey.

She added: “I thought nothing of it, but some weeks later the transformation team came to me and said they wanted to implement my idea.”

Marie Marfleet, clinical project manager in the transformation team at trust, was instrumental in the process of implementing the innovation.  

“We encourage staff on every level to put forward their ideas in a free and open forum,” she said. Kate’s idea is a fantastic example of an idea becoming a reality, and instantly improving patient safety and outcomes.

“We implemented Kate’s innovation across all hospital wards. It has minimal cost implications, and the cups are all dishwasher safe and hard-wearing,” she added.

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