The Impact Of IV Pumps On Patients

Over ten years ago the Smart intravenous pumps were introduced to the medical industry. The pumps came equipped with medication libraries and dose error reduction systems that were built into the machine. These two systems assisted healthcare staff in decreasing intravenous medication errors. Prior to intravenous smart pumps becoming available the medical staff was required to manually calculate the rate that medication was to be infused. After the rate was calculated the nurse then had to input the requested dosage into the pump. Since there are many different units that medications are dosed in the required calculations are complex, this increases the probability of user error. 


The current version of a Smart IV Pump has drug libraries and dose error reduction systems that allow the medical staff to choose the requested medication from an approved list. The medical staff is then allowed to input the patient’s information at which time the correct infusion rate is then calculated. The drug library contains the most frequently and commonly used intravenous medications. The drug error reduction system will alert the medical staff if the calculated infusion rate is outside the recommended dosing limits. The limits are either set as hard dose limits or soft dose limits. Hard dose limits prevent the healthcare staff from bypassing the pump limits and preventing the medication from starting. Soft dose limits will provide a warning that the medication dose may too high, but allows the healthcare staff to begin the infusion after the rate and dose are verified. 


Intravenous smart pumps have become very valuable in the administration of medication, total parenteral nutrition, fluids, and other nutrients. These machines have reduced the occurrence of intravenous adverse drug reactions and medication administration errors. Even after all the advancement in technology in these pumps, intravenous infusion continues to have a high rate of adverse drug reaction events. With a good amount of these errors being life-threatening. Many of these life-threatening events have taken place in the intensive care units at hospitals. Another fact is, a fair amount of these errors were from labeling errors and not from the administration of the infusion. Even though these errors were life-threatening only a small portion of these events caused serious harm to the patient. 


Sources of error include but are not limited to overriding dose error alerts, choosing the wrong medication from the library, or choosing the wrong strength of the medication from the library. The most concerning is manually bypassing the drug library and the drug error reduction system altogether. These two systems were implemented to reduce these errors and improve patient safety. If healthcare staff manually bypass the medication library and the drug error reduction system the potential for a positive outcome is decreased. Patients trust healthcare staff to make the right choices when administering medications. There is a system in place called the five R’s when nurses are administering medications. The smart pump is a more efficient way to ensure that the patient is receiving the right medication and the right dose of medication.

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