Improved Safety Pumps Necessary for Safety of Patients

Thursday October 4, 2012

Many U.S.-based hospitals are trying to make remarkable steps to increase the safety of patients. According to Consumer Reports’ Hospital Ratings, concerns like miscommunication over medication and infections were referred to as prominent examples of improper care of patients. The findings also highlight the fact that a minimum of one medication error every day occurs for each hospitalized patient in America.

Infusion pumps, which are used to deliver medicine to patients, are sometimes prone to human error. Reports show that in the period from 2005 to 2009, infusion pumps were responsible for more than 56,000 adverse events and 700 patient deaths. In the same period, 87 pumps were withdrawn from the market because they did not meet safety standards.

A subclass of infusion pump, known to medical professionals as intravenous patient-controlled analgesia, is used to deliver opioids, which can be critical for inpatient treatment. These gadgets enable patients to govern the intake of the painkillers, resulting in patient satisfaction and improved recovery outcomes.

However, grave risks can be present in the use of such infusion pumps. Research on IV PCAs found that mistakes happen approximately 407 times per 10,000 patients who are treated in the United States every year.

Complications with IV PCAs happen for a number of reasons, including unpleasant reactions to typical opioids and infections from the venous access. However, a serious and common factor for these incidents relates to human error, namely improper pump programming and wrong medicinal doses.

Although infusion pumps have been used for the past 40 years, and some supplemental changes have been initiated, error rates are still very high. Much more could be done to enhance pump safety and favorable patient experience. Supporters of improved safety in the health care industry are working to enhance safety measures and alert the public of IV PCA risks, while medical device inventors are looking for ways to improve the pain management systems.

Source: Medcity News, “Improving patient safety has to involve stopping errors with infusion pumps for post-op pain,” Pamela Palmer, Sept. 25, 2012

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