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More bang for your buck: Infusion Pumps

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 01, 2014
From the May 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Infusion pumps are notorious for medication errors that can cause patients harm or even death. But there are a few things that you can do in order to try to avoid those problems. Three experts share their top tips.

  • Clean and disinfect. The tubing path should always be kept clean and free of debris. “Those areas can get pretty nasty with dried or gummed-up IV solutions and throw an error in a minute,” says James Blount of Biomed Plus LLC. He has seen many errors resolved by using an alcohol wipe or a water dampened Q-tip to clean the air-in-line sensor and the fingers of the pump mechanism. Not only will cleaning the pump help prevent errors, it’s also vital to keeping the machine functioning. “If IV pumps are ignored and not cleaned properly, solutions might become hard and block the normal movement of mechanisms or stepper motors,” says Hassan Serhan of Infusion Pump Repair.

  • If it’s not working correctly, don’t use it. If you use an infusion pump that isn’t working correctly, it may cause the medication to be administered too quickly or too slowly. “Either scenario presents obvious health hazards,” says Gail Ruggles of Numia Medical Technology LLC. Additionally, infusion pumps with malfunctioning alarms could let air enter a patient’s blood stream or let an infusion continue when there is an occlusion or blockage. Any pump that is malfunctioning in anyway should not be used until it is serviced by a qualified technician.

  • Maintain the batteries. If the batteries are not charged when the user needs the pump, it will usually be tagged as “broken, will not turn on” and will be sent to a biomed when it only needed a charge. “We’ve resolved many issues of a “broken” pump by plugging it in overnight to charge the batteries and then running a basic performance test the next day to find that the pump works fine,” says Blount. But nowadays since there are different types of batteries, it’s important to know what kind of battery you have and that you make sure to follow the recommended procedures for maintaining it in order to lengthen its life.

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