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Infusion pumps are a necessity in every hospital, but smart infusion pumps are becoming standard with many medical providers since 2007. Standard Infusion pumps deliver specific fluids to a patient’s body as specified by the provider. They can deliver small or large amounts of fluids, such as hormones, antibiotics, or pain relievers. All infusion pumps, both smart and standard, have important safety features that prevent over or under-infusion.
Standard infusion pumps have limitations on their ability to monitor correct dosages of medication to the patient. Smart infusion pumps aim to prevent incorrect dosages that may lead to serious injury or death. Over 1.5 million preventable medication errors happen in the U.S. every year. Smart Infusion pumps perform a number of tasks that are important to increasing the reliability of drug dosage and deliver.
Smart infusion pumps automate the process of medication distribution from start to finish. They have the ability to fire soft or hard alerts to administrators when something seems off. Using these devices is not intended to replace medical practitioners, but create easier a more efficient and accurate work flow.
Smart infusion pumps offer the following:
– Drug libraries. A comprehensive software that calculates correct dose and delivery rate. These are often preloaded by the medical provider.
– Soft and Hard alerts. These alerts tell the administrator when something seems off.
– Verification of patient identity to prevent incorrect distribution of medication.
– More enhanced safety features
Know safety precautions
Though smart infusion pumps can increase reliability in medication dosage and delivery, it is important to take key safety protocols before usage. As with most automated devices, smart infusion pumps need to be continually monitored to insure the safety of the patient. The FDA has reported many incidents related to incorrect usage of smart infusion pumps. Here are some tips to ensure the safety of your patients.
1. Double check the dosage amount and delivery against the specific drug library you are using. Drug libraries are often reliable, but sometimes they can be incorrect. Incorrect programming of drugs because of incorrect drug libraries have been reported by the FDA.
2. Always reevaluate the settings associated with your drug libraries.
3. Pay attention to all alerts—especially soft alerts. One problem with smart infusion pumps, is that the soft alerts are merely an alarm. The FDA reports:
“A nurse intended to program an infusion of parenteral nutrition (PN) using the pump’s drug library feature for 45.7 mL/hour, but accidentally selected a rate of 457 mL/hour. Although the pump generated a soft-limit alert, the infusion was started and continued for 2 hours until the hourly infusion rate error was noticed. The patient developed acute hyperglycemia and was transferred to the ICU.”
4. Know the documentation and smart infusion pump you are using. Never completely rely on the smart infusion pump. When delivering high-risk medications, always have a second opinion by a medical professional who is familiar with the device.
5. Before setting an infusion pump for usage, confirm it is calibrated and programmed correctly.
Common manufacturers of infusion pumps include: Alaris, Stryker, Terufusion