Smart infusion technology: a minimum safety standard for intensive care?

Br J Nurs. 2008;17(10):630-6. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2008.17.10.29476.


There is overwhelming evidence that medication errors present a risk to patients. This risk is highest in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting and even greater when medications are administered via an infusion pump. Standard pumps will not alert for, or prevent, drug calculation, drug unit, button push, or multiple of ten errors when medication delivery data is inputted. However, the literature suggests that smart pumps programmed with hard (unchangeable) limits can significantly reduce drug errors at the point of administration. Staff at St George's Hospital paediatric ICU wanted to implement an infusion pump system that would be immediately effective in reducing medication errors at the point of administration. This article presents an overview of the relevant literature together with clinical examples from the authors' ICU, which demonstrates their experiences with smart pumps. It is the authors' firm belief that smart infusion technology sets a new minimum safety standard for intensive care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Clinical Nursing Research
  • Clinical Pharmacy Information Systems / instrumentation
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Drug Information Services / instrumentation
  • Drug Therapy, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Drug Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Equipment Safety / instrumentation
  • Equipment Safety / nursing
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Infusion Pumps* / statistics & numerical data
  • Infusions, Intravenous / adverse effects
  • Infusions, Intravenous / instrumentation
  • Infusions, Intravenous / nursing
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • London
  • Medication Errors / instrumentation
  • Medication Errors / nursing
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Numerical Analysis, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety Management / methods*