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Medication Errors Persist Despite Use of Smart Pumps

The Anastopoulo Law Firm

Hospitals rely heavily on the use of intravenous medications for the care and treatment of patients with a variety of conditions. IVs deliver medicine directly into the bloodstream where it can immediately begin working on the patient, and it is a preferred method of delivery for anesthesia, as well as antibiotics, pain killers, analgesics, and other types of medicines. While invaluable in providing the critical care patients need, IV medication errors continue to be one of the most common types of medical errors and mistakes. Advances in technology paved the way for ‘smart pumps’, machines that provide better monitoring over the type and amount of medication administered intravenously. While this new technology promised to improve patient safety, new research indicates that IV medication errors continue to occur at an alarming rate, and are more commonly the fault of medical staff rather than defects in the smart pump itself.

Using Smart Pumps to Deliver Medications

According to the healthcare information resource Infection Control Today (ICT), IV medication errors continue to be one of the most common types of medical errors and mistakes that occur in hospitals today. As the result of human error on the part of doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff, IV medication errors typically include the following:

  • Giving the wrong drug to patients.
  • Administering the right drug in the wrong amounts.
  • Administering drugs without checking for potential adverse reactions to other medications currently in use by the patient.

The medical community has long thought that advances in technology could potentially prevent mistakes such as these from occurring. The development of ‘Smart Pumps’ held the promise of reducing adverse medication events and medication errors by using built in safety features such as drug library databases and dosage error reduction systems. In other words, the systems themselves could detect and correct human errors in administering medications, before these errors had the opportunity to cause injury to the patient.

Medication Errors Continue To Persist

A new study in the BMJ Quality Journal indicates that despite smart pump technology, medication errors and adverse drug events continue to occur as often as 60 percent of the time IV medications are used. While not all of the incidents result in serious injury to the patient, the potential for harm exists, depending on the type of medication and the adverse events involved. While the medical community was quick to blame the pumps themselves for these errors, the BMJ study concluded these errors occurred not because of defects in the pump, but due to human error. The types of errors most common were bypassing the smart pump and its medication library, improper labeling, and the use of unauthorized medications.

Contact Us for Professional Assistance

If you or someone you care about has suffered harm as the result of a medical mistake or error, contact our experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys today. At Anastopoulo Law Firm we can advise you on how to uncover these mistakes and the responsible parties, and assist you in getting the compensation you deserve.


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