Smart Pumps Enhance Medication Safety

Nurse With Smart Pump

Genesis HealthCare System’s commitment to patient safety and quality care was recently reinforced with the introduction of technology that reaches into every patient room. The new Cardinal Health AlarisÒ “Smart Pump” IV System ensures the correct administration of intravenous drugs and provides an additional safety mechanism in the delivery of patient care.

“Our mission is to provide compassionate, quality and safe care,” says Pat Campbell, chief nursing officer. “It’s really not a surprise that technology like the Smart Pump is one of the tools that helps us provide that kind of care.”

The pumps are used when nurses administer patient intravenous (IV) drugs and fluids. Each pump includes a mini-computer “brain” that helps regulate the drugs and solutions. Before introducing the new pumps into the hospital, staff pre-programmed pumps with the appropriate drugs and drug amounts for each specific area of the hospital.

Now with the pumps in place, nurses first enter the drug information on the pump’s computer before administering a patient’s IV solution. The Smart Pump checks against its database to ensure the drug is appropriate for the patient. If the drug is outside the established parameters, the Smart Pump sends an alert and puts a halt to the process.

“Newspapers across the country run stories about negative events with patient drugs in hospitals,” says Pat. “The Smart Pump helps to prevent those occurrences and ensures that the right patient gets the right dose.”

The pumps will recognize, for example, that drugs administered to the infant patients in the intermediate care nursery unit would not be appropriate for patients in the adult heart care unit. The pumps act as a safety check and add another layer of protection to prevent medical errors.

“Nurses love the new pumps,” says Judy Roberts, education consultant. “They were very anxious to have it on board. Some of them had used them at other hospitals. They knew it was a good system.”

Genesis made the transition to the Smart Pumps on Nov. 18. Beginning at 7 a.m., a hospital team converted 342 PC brains, 490 pump modules and 343 IV poles at both hospitals in under eighth hours. Of course, a lot of advanced preparation went into the conversion, including training over 800 nurses at the hospitals.

“We were determined to convert all of our IV pumps to the new technology because that’s a much safer approach than converting half now and half later,” says Pat. “It was more challenging to do it that way, but it shows our commitment to the community.”

Purchasing the Alaris®“Smart Pump” System was expensive, but fortunately, the Genesis HealthCare Foundation funded the project, giving $2.5 million over two years to make this huge investment in the future of health care in our community.

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