Refilling water pitchers

  1. Nurses,

    How do you refill patient's water pitchers in the hospital? We are no longer allowed to take their pitchers to the touch-free water machine. Currently, they have us using large styrofoam cups for each refill. Needless, to say we are making a lot of waste that is horrible for the enviornment. We were also told we could not use zip lock bags either. If anyone has a better system or has research that says there is nothing wrong with using zip locks, let me know please.
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    About sizzlev, BSN, RN

    Joined: Apr '10; Posts: 17


  3. by   JDZ344
    That's crazy. We take the pitchers, rinse them with warm water and refill with cold. Is there a rationale for not taking them to the water cooler?
  4. by   NayRN
    Yeah, cross contamination-what goes into a patient's room stays in a patient's room.
  5. by   JDZ344
    Quote from NayRN
    Yeah, cross contamination-what goes into a patient's room stays in a patient's room.
    you don't take them all out and wash them? All of ours, plus the glasses, get washed twice per day, refilled and passed back out. Whilst they are being washed, if the patients want water, they can have a paper cup full. It's actually rare that the jugs will be consumed before they are collected for washing. It's done before breakfast and after lunch.

    We have open wards. All the patients are in the same area anyway
  6. by   AutumnDraidean
    Bags of the right amount of ice in a picnic cooler, take a bag into the room, dump into pitcher refill pitcher in room sink? I'm not talking ziplock bags here, I'm talking about open top cheap bags that would hold about a quart volume of air. Less wasteful probably pretty messy... Currently we take the pitchers out to the ice machine one at a time(Not collected on a cart) but we're a maternal newborn unit.
  7. by   loriangel14
    We have large pink water jugs that are two parts with a lid with a hole for the straw.We have a supply of clean ones in the cupboard. Twice a day clean ones are filled with ice water(ice from the ice machine, water from the tap) and the lid is snapped on and they are put on a trolley.We go along swapping new ones for the dirty ones in the room.The dirty ones are put on the bottom shelf of the trolley so they don't get mixed up.The trolley of dirty ones is collected by kitchen staff and taken away to be washed and then brought back and put in the cupboard.
  8. by   RunnerRN2015
    We use disposable pitchers (with the patient's name, admission date, and room number written on it) and cups. Since I work on peds, usually it's a family member who goes to the nourishment room to get ice and water from the ice/water machine (although NAs and RNs will offer to refill as well). Everything is thrown away when they are discharged.
  9. by   amoLucia
    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.
  10. by   Twinmom06
    we have plastic pitchers with a styrofoam sleeve to prevent sweat - we write the room # on it with a sharpie and refill until the pt is discharged...
  11. by   Sadala
    I'm a student. I don't personally take pts' pitchers out of their rooms because... Right. I'm a little OCD about that whole contamination thing. But at the places I've had clinicals thus far, there have always been cups or plastic bags I can fill with ice and then take them into the pt's room for the refill. Then I can wash/rinse the pitcher, put the ice in it, and fill it with water from the room. Then I usually throw the old cup out and give them the new cup in which I brought the ice to their room.

    For the person (maybe it was the OP?) who said they can't take plastic bags with ice into the pt rooms, please help me to understand, for I am apparently stupid. Why aren't you allowed to do this? Does it pose some risk of which I am apparently ignorant?
  12. by   dah doh
    Once something goes in the patient's room, it belongs to them and doesn't come out unless they change rooms. Our water pitchers have disposable liners. When you bring the patient fresh ice or water, you fill a new liner at the machine and change out the liner in the pitcher. The old loner gets tossed away. A lot if waste, but better for infection control.
  13. by   morte
    technically speaking, the pitchers should not be filled from a hand washing sink. This throws another wrench into your
  14. by   Morainey
    Our folks get a plastic disposable pitcher with a styro liner that gets refilled multiple times. If they need a fresh cup of water during my med pass and their pitcher is empty, I throw away their old styro cup and get them fresh ice water in a new cup, and refill their pitcher at the same time. I can see the infection control issue, but we haven't had any better suggestions that are cost effective, and our patients need water

    Obviously I would never take a water pitcher or reusable ice pack from a precaution room and refill it at the common area.