Infusion Pump: Uses and Patient Care

July 21, 2019
An infusion pump is a system that infuses drugs directly into the patient's bloodstream. Read all about it here!

The infusion pump is a system that doctors use to infuse a drug into the patient’s bloodstream.

Types of Infusion Pumps

Overall, there are two main types of infusion pumps:

An epidural infusion pump is a system for administering drugs intrathecally. This means that the drug reaches the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cord. It requires expensive materials, which is why doctors usually use it for terminally ill patients or those who are in a lot of pain.

On the other hand, an intravenous infusion pump infuses drugs directly into the patient’s bloodstream. It’s essentially the same as an IV, but it has very interesting features that differentiate it. For example, it can safely infuse very small doses. Another advantage is that it’s easy to program, meaning the patient receives the infusion at the right time.

The second type of pump is, undoubtedly, the most used. In the rest of the article, we’ll only refer to this type of infusion pump.

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Thanks to infusion pumps, the medical team can easily manage a variety of chemical compounds.

How Does an Infusion Pump Work?

Doctors resort to this device to administer recommended compounds in certain clinical cases. They program the machine to generate pressure on the patient’s IV. Thus, it’s able to transfer the chemical into the patient’s bloodstream.

A doctor programming infusion pump dosage.

There are essentially two types of administered drugs.

On one hand, enteral infusions can be used (oral route). On the other hand, doctors can resort to parenteral infusions (using IVs). Meanwhile, the pumps can infuse drugs continuously or intermittently.

This way, the nurses save time and energy in controlling the transfer of these liquids. In the past, they had to monitor the patient’s position, catheter, procedure time, etc.

Thanks to infusion pumps, they can achieve greater dose accuracy and the patient can move (within recommended limits). Also, these pumps reduce possible risks or complications.

Overall, there are different types of ambulatory infusion pumps. They differ depending on their capacity and the type of programming they need.

Patient Care

A doctor and a patient.

Generally, the medical team will explain how to use the infusion pump to the patient. They’ll also share a series of recommendations they should follow during treatment with this device.

Typically, these machines are easy to program. Nonetheless, the patient should consult a specialist if they have any questions. Sometimes, nurses use automatic password-protected programming. This way, patients who could become disoriented or confused don’t alter their infusion rate.

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Also, experts should adjust the batteries to make sure the machine is never disconnected. In some clinical cases, the medical team may need to enter the initial dosage (such as those that require a syringe infusion pump).

Finally, the doctor should advise the patient regarding the lifestyle they should adopt during the procedure. Among other things, they will keep in mind personal hygiene, diet, and physical activity.

  • Santos Ramos, B.; Guerrero Aznar, M.D. (1994). «13. Bombas de infusión». Administración de medicamentos: teoría y práctica. Ediciones Díaz de Santos.