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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2004 Jan 15;61(2):177-83.

Preventing medication errors with smart infusion technology.

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), 1161 21st Avenue, Room B101, Nashville, TN 37232-7610, USA.



Processes that pharmacists can use to identify high-risk areas and drugs that require special focus in error-prevention efforts are discussed, with emphasis on the need for i.v. medication error prevention.


Pharmacists can help determine where best to focus medication safety efforts and innovative technology by identifying areas that pose the greatest risk of harm to a patient, such as medications, administration routes, patient care areas, and diagnosis-related groups. Delivery of i.v. medications via infusion devices has traditionally not been a major concern for pharmacists. The introduction of "smart" infusion technology has changed that paradigm by requiring pharmacist involvement in defining minimum and maximum doses for continuous and bolus infusions used within a health care facility. This technology provides a software filter to prevent key-stroke errors in programming infusion devices for delivery of i.v. drugs, as well as a new source of data with which to measure medication errors at the bedside. Implementation of smart infusion technology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center appeared to prevent errors involving heparin. In addition to having an immediate positive impact at the bedside, the technology was relatively easy to implement.


Smart infusion systems represent an innovative technology that can provide an additional layer of protection at the point of care to help avert i.v. drug errors and prevent patient harm.

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