Why Are Infusion Pumps So Popular?

male nurse fixing infusion pump for patient

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hospitals use infusion pumps to deliver fluids, nutrients, and medicines for roughly 90% of their patients. Across the United States, facilities invest in these mission-critical devices because, unlike a manual IV setup, an infusion pump can be programmed to deliver exact dosages at a controlled rate during customizable time intervals.

Demand for infusion pumps dramatically increased during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as infusion pumps could provide reliable, automated, contact-free dosing to patients with severe cases. Because this helped to ease the burden on ICU nurses and other clinicians without compromising care quality, purchasing agents have added more devices to hospital fleets in anticipation of future surges in hospitalizations resulting from novel coronavirus variants.

Worldwide, the popularity of infusion pumps continues to grow. Recent research estimates that the value of the global infusion pumps and accessories market is growing at a 5.6% CAGR. At this rate, the market is expected to reach $9.5 million by 2026. Substantial payer reimbursement, the increasing prevalence of chronic disease, and the fact that American OEMs remain the most robust market players indicate that the US drives most of this growth. Hospitals represent the largest segment in the US market, using their procuring power to obtain the most advanced technologies to accommodate high volume patient demand.

Benefits of Infusion Pumps

Infusion pumps provide a variety of advantages compared to manual IV therapy, such as:

  • Automated delivery
  • Precision dosage
  • Avoiding medication errors
  • Reducing the workload of nursing staff

Some infusion pumps can deliver much smaller amounts of medicine than a manual IV drip.

Types of Infusion Pumps

A wide variety of infusion pumps exists to address a range of priorities. These include fluid volumes, device mobility, and functional requirements. Primary types of infusion pumps include:

Stationary Infusion Pumps

Stationary pumps are larger devices most commonly found in hospital and long-term care settings. They provide IV fluids for bedridden patients experiencing severe or complex illnesses. These patients typically require frequent or continuous doses of antibiotics, nutrients, insulin, hormones, or pain medications.

Ambulatory Infusion Pumps

Lightweight, ambulatory pumps provide mobility for patients requiring regular or continuous IV infusions, so they don’t have to remain bedridden. The patient either wears the pump in a pouch or they clip the pump to their clothing, enabling them to move around the floor during their hospital stay. These options are often used during patient transport; they’re also popular for home infusion therapy.

Large Volume Infusion Pumps

As the name implies, large volume infusion pumps (LVPs) draw large doses of medications and nutrients from an IV bag, controlling the flow rate while releasing the fluid into the body. Frequently used in critical care situations, these devices offer a broad range of programming options to handle complicated dosages across a broad spectrum of infusion rates, from very slow to very rapid fluid delivery.

Small Volume Infusion Pumps /Syringe Pumps

Small volume pumps use a motorized syringe mechanism, rather than an IV fluid bag, to push fluids into the device and then out to the patient. This mechanism helps these compact devices deliver small, precise amounts of the medication intravenously.

Smart Infusion Pumps

Smart infusion pumps have network capabilities and built-in software designed to increase the accuracy and safety of infusion therapy. This includes a Dose Error Reduction System (DERS) that interfaces with an organization-specific drug library. The facility’s pharmaceutical experts can input drug specifications such as concentration, volume, and rate and duration of fluid delivery.

The DERS helps point-of-care clinicians avoid mistakes when programming the smart pump for an individual patient. The system verifies that the dosage falls within the parameters established in the drug library. It sends real-time alerts when it identifies inaccurate dosage input and can override the infusion if the clinician doesn’t make appropriate changes. It also sends an alert if it detects a problem during an infusion.

Most smart pumps now integrate with EHR, incorporating the individual prescription into the DERS database. Bi-directional smart pumps can also send infusion data back to the EHR.

Risks of Infusion Pumps

While infusion pumps appear to enhance overall safety and care quality compared to manual IV administration, they are not without risk. Design issues, software bugs, and user errors continue to compromise patient safety.

In 2017, the FDA launched an Infusion Pump Improvement Initiative focusing on device improvement and increased user awareness. This and the popularity of smart pumps have reduced the number of device recalls over the last several years. However, even smart pumps continue to present safety challenges that are cause for concern.

Hospital purchasing and risk management departments must perform due diligence when purchasing new infusion pump models, such as reviewing the FDA Medical Device Recalls database. Administrators must also ensure that nurses and clinicians are properly educated and remain in compliance with manufacturer guidelines when operating these devices in the field.

In our next post, we’ll cover a variety of actionable steps to optimize smart infusion pumps for safety, as well as steps that can significantly reduce user errors.

Elite Biomedical Solutions designs and manufactures infusion pump replacement parts proudly made in the USA. Contact us for information about reliable parts that meet or exceed OEM-level quality

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