Christiana Care is taking another step forward in enhancing patient safety with “smart” infusion pumps, designed to eliminate manual entry and the potential for human error in administering the majority of IV medications and fluids.

These smart pumps offer immediate access to patient information by associating the patient, the device and medication orders. This information is then sent to the electronic medical record for viewing and interpretation.

“Most of the preventable errors that cause patient harm involve the administration of medications,” said Dean Bennett, RPh, CPHQ, LSSGB, medication safety officer. “This eliminates the manual programming of the pump, which is where errors occur. It is the perfect thing for a computer to do — and also will allow our nurses to focus more time on the things that human beings do best.”

Vinay Maheshwari, MHCDS, FCCP, vice chair, Department of Medicine and physician champion for the project, notes that smart pumps are programmed with a number of proactive, multi-directional awareness features.

The physician places the order, which is filled by the pharmacy. When the medication arrives, the nurse scans the patient, scans the device and scans the medication. Bar code scanning technology associates the patient, the medication and the device, confirming the right patient is receiving the right drug, the right dose, at the right time and via the right route of administration.

The smart pump automatically enters data into the electronic medical record so nurses will no longer have to perform that task. The technology also provides a graphic representation of the patient’s response to treatment, which enables more rapid clinical decision-making.

“The smart pump will directly connect medicines or fluids all the way from the pharmacy to the bedside,” Dr. Maheshwari said. “It very clearly identifies what medication went in, the concentration and how much was administered. When we are at the end of that bag it will alert not only the nurse but the pharmacist.”

Terri Corbo, Pharm.D., MHCDS, FASHP, vice president, Pharmacy Services, said the new technology enhances the flow between pharmacy and front-line providers.

“We all know that our work in Pharmacy impacts the patient, and this new initiative in safety is very exciting for our staff,” she said.

Because smart pumps are more efficient, patients ultimately will benefit from receiving more personal care at the bedside from their nurses, said Donna Casey, DNP, MA, RN, NE-BC, FABC, vice president, Patient Care Services, and co-chair, Ethics Committee.

“This is reflective of our value of excellence, of continuously looking for ways to innovate,” she said. “Smart pumps are a win-win, benefitting both our patients and our staff.”

Training of “super users” began July 17, said Maryanne Miller, project lead, Information Technology. When training is complete, smart pumps will be rolled out at both Christiana Hospital and Wilmington Hospital.

“It’s software that users are enthusiastic about using,” she said. “It enhances patient safety, plus saves a tremendous amount of work in documentation.”