The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has released a list of the most-pressing medication errors and hazards, two of which directly involve infusion pumps. ISMP President Michael Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon.), DPS (hon.), FASHP, says the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately exasperated such issues.

“We know that the pandemic has created an incredibly challenging year for healthcare providers,” says Cohen. “Obviously, organizations have to prioritize dealing with COVID-19 surges and care, but we hope that they can keep these important medication safety problems on their radar and address them once they are not fully consumed by the pandemic.”

ISMP hopes that the following hazards and errors become an essential part of healthcare organizations’ strategic medication safety improvement plans this year:

  • Not using smart infusion pumps with dose error-reduction systems (DERS) in perioperative settings. ISMP’s updated guidelines recommend use of pumps with DERS throughout healthcare organizations, for all infusions (including hydrating solutions) and bolus/loading doses. However, use in the perioperative setting is limited due to barriers and challenges.
  • Hazards associated with positioning infusion pumps outside of COVID-19 patients’ rooms. Some hospitals are placing infusion pumps in hallways to conserve personal protective equipment, reduce staff exposure, and enhance ability to respond to alarms quickly. Unfortunately, the use of extension tubing sets can impact volume of fluid needed for priming, flow rates, and time medications/solutions take to reach a patient. Long tubing may also pose a tripping hazard, and barcode scanning at bedside may be prevented as well as certain components of independent double checks, according to ISMP officials.

View Start the Year Off Right by Preventing These Top 10 Medication Errors and Hazards from 2020 to learn more.