Developing Strategic Recommendations for Implementing Smart Pumps in Advanced Healthcare Systems to Improve Intravenous Medication Safety

Adam Sutherland, Matthew D. Jones, Moninne Howlett, Sara Arenas-lopez, Arif Patel, Bryony Dean Franklin

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Avoidable harm associated with medication is a persistent problem in health systems and the use of preprogrammed infusion devices (‘smart pumps’) and data monitoring is seen as a core approach to mitigating and reducing the incidence of these harms. However, smart pumps are costly to procure, configure and maintain (in both human and financial terms) and are often poorly implemented. Variation in the manner in which medicines are prepared and used within complex modern healthcare systems exacerbates these challenges, and a strategic human-centred approach is needed to support their implementation. A symposium of 36 clinical and academic medication safety experts met virtually to discuss the current ‘state of the art’ and to propose strategic recommendations to support the implementation of medication administration technology to improve medication safety. The recommendations were that health systems (1) standardise infusion concentrations to facilitate the development of ready-to-administer formulations of frequently used medicines, and support ‘out of the box’ programming of infusion devices; (2) develop and implement drug libraries using human-centred approaches and the aforementioned standard concentrations, with a theoretical understanding of how devices are used in practice; (3) develop standardised metrics and outcomes to support the interpretation of data produced by infusion devices; (4) involve all stakeholders in the development of drug libraries and metrics to ensure broad understanding of the devices, their benefits and limitations; and (5) leverage input into device design, working with manufacturers and users. Using this strategic approach, it is then possible to envisage and plan real-world implementation studies using a uniform approach to quantify improvements in safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrug Safety
Early online date15 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2022


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