Information Tools to Promote Patient Safety, Improve Work Processes, and Patient Outcomes

Humans are bound to make mistakes even in care provision, which necessitates the use of safe technologies. Technology is increasingly being used in the healthcare industry to improve healthcare processes and promote positive patient outcomes. The use of safe technologies has enabled healthcare practitioners to offer quality care while implementing better preventive techniques that assist them in reducing the risks of adverse outcomes. The use of smart pumps has been implemented in various healthcare facilities to promote better drug administration.

Technology Safety Initiatives

These technologies perform a reasonableness test to determine whether the programming set for an intravenous drug aligns with the institutional limits or guidelines before the infusion process can begin. Smart pumps incorporate a comprehensive library of drugs, their concentrations, dosing levels and their units, and upper limits for different drugs. Smart pumps can also be programmed to administer bolos and continuous drugs. They are set up and managed by the pharmacy department in the hospital to ensure that all the intravenous drugs available in the facility are programmed in the smart pumps. The healthcare information technology (HIT) systems used in healthcare facilities are used to derive the patient and pharmacological information that form the basis of other technological systems such as the smart pumps (Rief, et al., 2017). When turned on the healthcare practitioner designates a specific area such as ICU or neonatal unit and the device becomes automatically configured to the needs of the patients in that unit. The healthcare worker can them select the right drug and appropriate concentration from the predetermined list before starting the infusion pump (Franklin, 2017; Giuliano, 2015). In case any errors have been made, the smart pump will alert the clinician.

Data Gathered

The smart pumps collects data on the type of intravenous drug used for a specific patient, the dosage, concentration, and the duration the infusion will be required to run. Modern smart pumps have been modified to ensure that they utilize dosage and concentration levels that align with the clinical guidelines used in the hospital. Other types of data collected by these pumps include the start time and expected end time, rate of drug administration per minute, units of the drug administered such as mcg/kg/min or units/hr, and dose limits (Giuliano, 2015). This limits the risks of errors associated with units for specific drugs or dosages.


Smart pumps were introduced to help healthcare practitioners reduce the risks of medication errors that commonly occur in patients using intravenous drugs. The configuration of the smart pumps to specific units reduces the risks of medication errors by ensuring that the drugs and dosages that can be keyed on the machine are specific for the unit. For instance, when administering an intravenous drug in the pediatric unit, the configurations ensure that the staff cannot key in dosages meant for adult patients. Smart pumps reduce the risks of adverse drug reactions that could occur when patients are treatment with the wrong drug or dosages. This is particularly important since intravenous drugs are pumped directly to the circulating blood and could cause fatal or unreversed damage. They also promote proper administration of bolus and continuous drugs or nutrients with minimal supervision (Franklin, 2017; Lehn, Vitoux, Evanovich, Pontieri-Lewis, & Colineri, 2019). Other benefits associated with smart pumps include better drug calculations,

Cons of the Technology

Smart pumps have been linked to increased alert burdens in neonatal units. In a research that assessed the extent of this burden, smart pumps were linked to approximately 17% of major alerts generated by the infusion pumps among specific patients while soft alerts, which consisted of low salient alerts, were overridden. The low alerts made up 79% of the overall disturbances in the unit. Some of the disturbances caused included waking up sleeping infants and causing distress among the infants. Other additional disadvantages that were linked to the smart pumps included cognitive overload among the staff especially when dealing with the soft alerts that needed to be assessed each time before overriding them. Working with pumps that were faulty was also seen as a challenge as it contributed to increased pump alerts and frustrations among the staff. The healthcare workers responsiveness to the pumps’ alerts was also affected by factors such as repetitiveness of alerts, complexity of work, and limited numbers of staff working within a unit (Melton, Timmons, Walsh, Meinzen-Derr, & Kirkendall, 2019). Healthcare workers can feel overwhelmed with the noise produced by the pumps alert system.

The benefits of using smart pumps outweigh the cons by a significant margin. Although the noise produced by the alerts can cause distress, they also ensure that the healthcare practitioners do not ignore any potential error that could affect the patients. The other challenges can be addressed by ensuring that the smart pumps are reviewed regularly for mechanical problems to ensure that they perform their roles effectively (Melton et al., 2019). Understanding the need for organization change and conducting proper organization cultural assessment can help health organization leaders determine the effective ways of implementing such technologies and addressing the barriers to change (Davis & Cates, 2018). Education can go along way in promoting proper use of healthcare technology. Educating health workers on the disadvantages linked to overriding the system without checking them well to determine whether the errors are based on the settings or the machines can promote the benefits of smart pumps over traditional IV pumps (Lehn, Vitoux, Evanovich, Pontieri-Lewis, & Colineri, 2019; Sullivan, 2017). Increasing the number of staff working within a unit can also ensure that more workers are available to assess the alerts and rectify any issue.

With the increased use of smart pump technologies in healthcare facilities, the number of medication errors related to intravenous infusion has drastically decreased. The widespread adoption of this technology will continue to promote the quality of care offered to patients and reduce the occurrence of adverse drug reactions that could be linked to overdosing patients or use of the wrong drug. Education and proper management can promote proper use of these technologies.




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Lehn, J., Vitoux, R., Evanovich, K. Z., Pontieri-Lewis, V., & Colineri, L. (2019). Achieving Outcomes With Innovative Smart Pump Technology Partnership, Planning, and Quality Improvement. Nursing Care Quality, 34(1), 9-15. Retrieved from

Melton, K. R., Timmons, K., Walsh, K. E., Meinzen-Derr, J. K., & Kirkendall, E. (2019). Smart pumps improve medication safety but increase alert burden in neonatal care. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 19(213), 4. Retrieved from

Rief, J. J., Hamm, M. E., Zickmund, S. L., Nikolajski, C., Lesky, D., Hess, R., . . . Roberts, M. S. (2017). Using Health Information Technology to Foster Engagement: Patients’ Experiences with an Active Patient Health Record. Health Communication, 32(3), 310-319. .

Sullivan, E. J. (2017). Effective leadership and management in nursing. Pearson.