Lean manufacturing methods are being evaluated in the healthcare sector. Improving the flow of patients in acute care should the eliminate delays that contribute to the cost of healthcare. Our patient care unit uses the colours of a traffic light to visually identify the expected date of discharge. This facilitates the distribution of the work relating to discharge over a couple of days, rather than the usual concentration within the last couple of hours of a patient's stay. The Red Light–Green Light system contributes to reduced backlogs in the emergency department and fewer cancellations of elective surgeries due to a lack of in-patient beds.