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What is an infusion pump and what can go wrong?

The Pennsylvania-based ECRI Institute (formerly the Emergency Care Research Institute) recently released its top 10 list of health care technology hazards for 2017. Leading the way was errors in the usage of infusion pumps in hospitals.

An infusion pump is a medical device used to deliver controlled amounts of medication, nutrients and other fluids to a patient's body. Hospitals use the pumps to deliver insulin, painkillers, antibiotics and other fluids. They are useful because they can give medication in timed intervals, instead of requiring a nurse to continuously administer it.

Possible Errors Lie In Device Administration

ECRI, a nonprofit that studies medical procedures, devices and drugs, states that infusion pumps have many safety features. However, many preventable incidents occur due to a failure to monitor by doctors, nurses and hospital staff.

One of the most serious infusion pump errors is "IV free flow," in which the pump administers too much medication to the patient. A pump malfunction could also mean a patient not getting the medication he or she needs.

Before using an infusion pump, hospital staff should look for any signs of damage. They should also check the clamp on IV tubing and the drip chamber.

Your Options When An Error Causes You Harm

If you or a loved one is the victim of an error caused by a malfunctioning infusion pump, you should speak with an attorney right away. An experienced personal injury and medical malpractice attorney will be able to investigate the cause of your injuries and determine fault. It could be the fault of the manufacturer, or it could be the fault of hospital staff not properly using or monitoring the equipment.

Also, remember that you can advocate for yourself. You have the right to ask questions about the infusion pump and ensure that staff is routinely checking the device to ensure it is functioning properly.

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