Infusion Pumps and Tech Systems Need Better Integration

Published Online: Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Although automated intravenous (IV) infusion pumps, referred to as "smart pumps," can prevent adverse drug reactions, health care professionals argue that they will not generate improvements in patient safety until they are interfaced with other systems. A research team comprised of nurses, pharmacists, and biomedical engineers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital said systems that need to be interfaced with smart pumps include bar coding, computerized order entry, and electronic health records.

The hospital's study found that errors happen during each step in the process of giving IV medication: prescribing, preparation, and administration. An effective error reduction system needs to include 2-way communication so the physician's order can be verified in real time on the pump, and the pump can alert the hospital's medical record system to how much medication the patient has received.

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