Introduction Neonatal bilious vomiting is a surgical emergency until proved otherwise, and requires prompt investigation. Health workers who are unfamiliar with the colour of bile may over or under-diagnose the presence of bile in vomit or gastric aspirates.
Aim The aim of this study was to assess whether the nursing staff, midwives and doctors at a district general hospital were able to identify the colour of bile accurately.
Method A total of 163 participants of both parents and health workers were asked to identify bile colour from a colour-chart of 8 green/yellow colour options.
Results The results showed that the colour of bile was correctly identified by 95.5% of medical staff, 91% of nurses, midwives 72% and only 16.5% of parents. Whereas 16% of doctors, 30.5% of nurses, midwives 28% and 34% of parents wrongly identified the yellow colours as being that of bile.
Conclusion Using bile colour posters and charts might be of value in recognising the bile colour accurately. Further education and training is needed with the involvement of nurses and midwives. Checking the colour by 2 professionals reduce the possibility of incorrect recognition of bile due to colour blindness.