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Infusion pumps — a challenging technology or a technology challenge?

May 07, 2021
Infusion Pumps
From the May 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

ECRI recommends that facilities replace any cracked components as early as practicable. In certain cases — for example, if door hinge cracking is identified — the pump should be tagged as faulty and taken out of clinical use.

2. External connectors are often prone to damage
Several infusion pumps employ an electrical connector that is used for connecting pump modules, battery charging, or data communication. These types of connectors appear to be prone to damage, especially if exposed to incompatible cleaning chemicals or methods. Damaged connectors have resulted in infusion system shutdown and delays in infusion therapy.

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ECRI recommends that facilities inspect any external connectors for damage during a periodic performance verification. It is also important to follow the manufacturer-provided cleaning guidance to avoid deterioration. Especially with repeated external connector failures, it is worthwhile to consider establishing a proactive replacement plan to avoid large-scale fleet issues.

3. Premature battery failures
Infusion pumps are frequently operated on battery power. This is primarily for temporary use, intended to accommodate patient transfers and facilitate ambulatory patients. Most pump instructions for use state that the pump should be connected to an electrical outlet to ensure battery longevity. This has proven to be difficult to achieve routinely in clinical practice, resulting in earlier-than-expected battery deterioration. ECRI has received reports of battery-related errors due to the inability of the battery to hold a sufficient charge, or a pump's failing to alarm for a low-battery alarm condition. In some instances this has led to unexpected cessation of infusion therapy.

ECRI recommends that facilities consider establishing a periodic battery replacement interval based on the facility’s experience, rather than relying on the manufacturer-provided estimate. Educating clinical users about the importance of plugging pumps into power outlets is also merited.

4. A pump software update — a resource-intensive remediation project
Infusion pump software/firmware updates are often conducted to provide additional pump functionality, revise software glitches, or implement a security patch. Most infusion pumps currently do not support wireless software/firmware updates; thus every instance of a software update or patch is usually a significant undertaking. Updating the entire pump fleet requires locating all units and manually conducting the update. This can be particularly challenging with security updates that may merit expeditious implementation.

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