History and Future of IV Infusion Pumps

Medical technology continuously progresses and intravenous therapy advances are not an exception. While recent technological advances have revolutionized IV infusion pumps, the idea has existed for centuries. Researchers in the middle ages experimented with transfusing blood between humans and animals. Sir Christopher Wren is credited with creating the first successful infusion device using a pig’s bladder and a writing quill.

The 1930s saw intravenous therapies that improved patient outcomes. Dr. Thomas Latta found that intravenous salt water helped patients stricken with cholera. Also, the risk of contamination decreased as vacuum sealed glass bottles were used to store the infusions.

IV infusion pumps, that are commonly used in hospitals today, appeared in the 1960s. Dr. John Myers started using a combination of minerals and vitamins delivered via IV infusion pumps to improve patient recovery. While his exact formula has been lost, doctors today use a combination of vitamins B and C, magnesium sulphate, calcium gluconate, and selenium to manage a wide range of conditions. If you entered the hospital complaining of allergies, asthma, heart disease or even fibromyalgia you would likely receive an IV infusion with a similar combination of ingredients.

Modern IV infusion pumps allow healthcare professionals increased control in administering fluids and essential medications. The pumps can be calibrated to administer injections every minute, or injections too small to for a normal IV drip, or fluid injections that vary depending on the time of day, or discrete amounts of pain medication as requested by the patient. This allows treatments to be used that would be too expensive or time consuming without this technology.

As with any other type of medical advancement, health and safety are a primary concern. Although many infusion pumps include inherent safety features, more than 56,000 event reports where recorded between 2005-2009. During this time, infusion pumps were linked to 500 deaths prompting the FDA to launch the Infusion Pump Improvement Initiative. This initiative moved towards imposing stricter regulation of infusion pumps and improving software issues and other mechanical or electrical issues associated with negative outcomes.

Increased use of infusion pumps is associated with the common trend of hospitals moving away from paper patient records and moving towards using completely online records. Many of the IV infusion pumps allow doctors and nurses to upload the drug, rate changes, and volumes infused directly into the patient chart from the software of the infusion pump. One such example is the Baxter IV Infusion Pump which using barcode technology to accomplish these paperless results.

Not only do these pumps reduce paper waste they also prevent human error in drug administration. The before meantioned IV infusion pump has built in tritation error prevention that is designed to catch dose or rate changes that could be potentially dangerous to a patient.
Innovations in medical technology may not sound as exciting as flashy new surgical procedures or new wonder drugs the individuals behind these breakthroughs still deserve as much recongition. Doctor and nurses work hand in hand with technology to heal patients.

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