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Medication Errors Caused By Infusion Pumps

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Medication Errors caused by incorrect data entry into intravenous medication infusion devices are the subject of more adverse event reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration than any other medical technology. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation did a study for the years 2005 through 2009 and found that more than 56,000 adverse events and 700 deaths were associated with infusion devices 

The mistyping of information or the entry of information into the wrong field in the computerized infusion system can be dangerous and deadly. Errors can also be caused by illegible orders that are then misinterpreted when entered into the pump. Furthermore, the use of an infusion pump does not guarantee that the right drug is being given, that the drug has been properly prepared or that the drug is being given to the correct patient.

It is critical that nurses and doctors take the time to avoid medication errors by making sure that the infusion pump is delivering the right drug, to the right patient, in the right dose. Simple safety precautions in prescribing and entering can avoid harm. When a drug dose is written and the dose is a whole number, there should never be a decimal point with a "0" afterwards - the risk is that the decimal point is overlooked and a dose 10 times the amount is given. Before pushing the start button on the infusion pump, the data entered must be checked for accuracy. If these simple precautions were enacted, fewer medication injuries would result.

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