Smart Pump Technology: What Makes a Smart Pump “Smart”?
In her article, freelance medical and health writer in Michigan City, Indiana, and family nurse practitioner at Community Healthcare Systems in Munster, Indiana, Julie Nyhus, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, reviews the history of smart infusion pumps and how the safety and usability of infusion systems have directed next-generation smart pump technology. While exploring smart IV pumps and patient safety together with opportunities to improve, Ms. Nyhus interviews Susan Niemeier, vice president of clinical excellence at Fresenius Kabi. The two discuss what makes smart pumps “smart.”
“The addition of a drug library using dose error reduction software (DERS) essentially makes a pump smart,” said Ms. Niemeier. Initially, these legacy infusion pumps reduced the incidence of adverse IV drug events and medication errors; however, innovation stalled as some manufacturers failed to substantially upgrade their basic design. Smart pumps in healthcare continued to be associated with 54% of all adverse drug events, 56% of medication errors, and 61% of serious and life-threatening errors.
Smart Pumps and Patient Safety
Taking infusion pump technology to the next level is crucial for patient safety. Smart infusion pump errors associated with legacy pumps are commonly due to complex programming and bypassing limits (DERS), improper configuration of infusion sources, and workflow mistakes. Next-generation technology seeks to eliminate the historic cons of smart pumps.
With an intuitive, full-color touchscreen, it is significantly faster to program, which has been shown to result in fewer deviations from safe practices.1 Bright screens permit simple, quick assessment without patient disruption. And with a system that doesn’t rely on gravity, the flow rate doesn’t depend on bag height, backpressure, or fluid viscosity, which simplifies physical setup and allows for consistent, accurate flow in any clinical setting.
Automated IV Pumps in Nursing
Next-generation IV smart pumps simplify nurses’ workflows through interoperability with technologies that can “listen” and “talk” to each other wirelessly. This allows for auto-programming and auto-documentation with the electronic health record and barcode medication administration, which reduce manual steps and medication errors. Eliminating complicated programming steps and documentation not only reduces the chance for error but also gives nurses more time for caring for their patients.
By understanding pain points and causes for errors from those with firsthand experience and overcoming those challenges, infusion technology—and the benefits of smart infusion pumps—have now been taken to a whole new level.