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Special report: Infusion pumps

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | May 29, 2014
From the May 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

They are also facilitating device improvements and are involved in the development of model-based software, engineering and verification methods. With the Generic Infusion Pump project, which is an ongoing collaboration among outside researchers, the FDA has helped to create an open-source software safety model and they also reference specifications that manufacturers can use to verify their device software.

The FDA also wants users to be well-informed about this issue. They launched a new infusion pump website that includes information about different pumps, common problems with them and what users can do to prevent them.

Software and connectivity
In order to try to make their infusion pumps safer, manufacturers have added technology to their existing pumps, which is specifically designed to avoid medication errors. Pumps with “smart” capabilities have built-in software with drug libraries that alert users to set minimum and maximum dose limits for each medication.

A Kalorama Information report published this February revealed that the more than 7 billion-dollar worldwide infusion pump market will grow over four percent in the next five years and one of the main drivers are smart pumps.

Hospira’s Plum A+ Infusion System can be upgraded to include Hospira MedNet safety software and can set upper and lower dose limits, as well as soft alerts that can warn users to reconsider drug dose, or hard alerts to prevent users from going beyond the dose limits.

CareFusion’s Alaris System contains Guardrails Suite MX software, which includes the hospital’s drug library and like Hospira’s system, alerts the clinician if an infusion is programmed outside of the acceptable dose range.

B. Braun’s Outlook ES Safety Infusion System uses barcodes in which clinicians have to scan their identification badges in order to administer high-risk medications to patients. Other smart pumps include Baxter’s SIGMA Spectrum Infusion System and Smiths Medical CADD-Solis Ambulatory Infusion Pump.

“The idea is that the pump can override an operator error either in the amount of medication or the timing of the medication because both can be an issue, obviously,” says Bruce Carlson, publisher at Kalorama Information.

But the smart pumps are not always smart enough to get the dose correct every time and they don’t help prevent users from administrating an order to the wrong patient or selecting the wrong drug. However, when the pumps are integrated into the EMR, they can verify the right patient and the right drug, according the ECRI’s Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2014 report.

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