When Accuracy and Flow Don’t Add Up: The Case for New Design in Large Volume Pumps
April 2, 2018
MedTech Intelligence, April 2, 2018
By Susan Niemeier, MHA, BSN, RN
Outdated technology in infusion pumps has led to persistent infusion-related errors and costly workplace inefficiencies. A new paradigm in adaptive pump design that addresses external factors is needed to optimize patient safety and clinical workflow.
Approximately 9 in 10 hospitalized patients receive intravenous infusion. When medications are delivered, patients assume—as do the nurses administering the infusion—that the large volume infusion pump is delivering medications accurately and at a continuous flow rate. However, all is not what it seems, and drugs may not be administered as thought, potentially placing the patient at harm.
Large volume pumps are ubiquitous throughout the hospital and deliver a wide range of fluids and medications, from simple hydration to high-risk, critical medications. The pumps are expected to infuse fluids and medications continuously at the prescribed programmed rate. In controlled laboratory conditions, the typical flow rate accuracy would be plus or minus 5%. But it can be difficult to accurately gauge pump performance and patient response in a real-world setting, where various environmental factors may dramatically affect flow rate accuracy.