May 2009

Smart Pumps Prevent Medication Errors, Improve Safety


The right patient, right drug, right dose, right route and right time: the Five Rights of Medication Safety is the gold standard in medical operations. CHI has selected a new standard for medication infusion pumps: “smart” pumps will take CHI hospitals part of the way there by ensuring the right drug and right dose. Plum A+ pumps from Hospira are now in use at CHI’s newest hospital, St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, WA, and at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Baker City, OR. “The pumps are ‘smart’ because they are programmed with CHI’s standard infusion medication library, which can be easily updated,” said Barbara Boyesen, medical imaging services project manager for CHI. “Recent studies indicate that more than two-thirds of all infusion medication deliveries experience at least one error. Smart pumps provide parameters for the safe delivery of medications, preventing common infusion errors. It’s huge for patient safety.” In addition to monitoring dosage, smart pumps collect administration data. The data is used to generate reports that help pinpoint areas for improvement. “For example, the reports might show a need for refresher training on certain medications, or alert the staff to equipment maintenance needs,” said Boyesen. “They also show where best practices are in place.” The pumps in use at St. Anthony are able to use wireless technology to automatically send information that resides on a central server to and from each pump. Because smart pumps prevent medication errors and increase the efficiency of medication administration, they have a favorable return on investment. Saint Joseph Hospital, Lexington, KY, invested in smart pumps in 2005. During the first nine months the pumps were in use, they prevented 413 medication errors. That translates to an estimated five patient lives saved and annual cost savings of $600,000. Saint Joseph’s success with smart pumps was a major factor in CHI’s decision to select a systemwide standard. For more information on smart pumps, contact Barbara Boyesen at barbaraboyesen@catholichealth.net.