Give me a fresh styrofoam cup, please!!! I never want to see those reusable plastic-y pitchers - I've seen too many pts spit and pee in them to ever want to receive the wrong one back to me by mistake. Or be the person's whose pitcher went thru the ice machine JUST AFTER the spitter/pee-er's pitcher went thru.
OP, now I know you asked about hospitals - but you'll see why LTC is doing like the hosps too.
Many LTC places now use the styrofoam cups - too many mixups with the wrong pitcher going to the wrong pt. Seems with HIPAA HIPAA HIPAA, we couldn't put names on the pitchers anymore. It was after too many 101A's got 101B's pitchers crisscrossed (no names, now), and it turned out that the original 101A (Mrs Brown) was moved down the hall to 108B. But the current 101A (Mrs Jones) was getting 2 pitchers, both marked 101A, and so on, and so on, and so on. Too many mixups. Oh, and woe if a family member saw the wrong name (or wrong number) at the wrong table!!! Somebody actually phoned a complaint to the State hotline about a mixup once where I was!
There also had to be infection control protocols for the sanitation of those pitchers and the alternative, ice cooler chests. The ice scoops had protocols too (always being found wrong on spot checks by mgt) as did the carts. There had to be the requisite documented signed logs for these protocols too!!! I KID YOU NOT! And if I recall correctly, ice machines must have a sanitation protocol also. (Do they still do monthly C&S cultures?)
And the biggest coup de grace would be to determine which dept would be responsible for the whole procedure - nsg or dietary. Now remember, that if equip goes to the kitchen, there must be access by staff to get into the kitchen. But there's that whole regulatiory thing about only authorized staff and equip allowed in the kitchen, so what happens on 3-11 and 11-7 trying to get into the kitchen after hours? Oh, so maybe they can just leave a cart full of spent pitchers ready to be exchanged by the door. To have duplicate setups all ready to go wouldn't seem like too difficult a process. HAH!
If the kitchen didn't put out fresh pitchers for exchange, nsg wouldn't be able to put out fresh water, and that would be an unholy no-no. Complaints about that too. Then of course there's the pt who drinks all the water, but oh noooo, 11-7 didn't give out water. Maybe he was NPO, so we emptied the pitcher...
So ---- going back to OP. Styrofoam cups may seem wasteful but they are more sanitary and efficient in the grand scheme of things. And just as a safeguard, I would have my CNAs date and initial their cups bottoms when passing them out. So there'd be no questions. Each shift was responsible to clear away old cups and trashy stuff, so it would be interesting to see who never straightened up like they should have.
Wow! I didn't expect to write a mini novel on the history of ice pitchers in healthcare. But it sure felt good to let out all my pithy sarcasm about some of the silliness that abounds in our workplace.