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Infusion Pumps 101: What are infusion pumps used for?
Everything you need to know about infusion pumps in healthcare settings.


An infusion pump is an indispensable tool in clinical healthcare environments. Infusion pumps are designed to deliver, or "infuse" patients with accurate quantities of medicine or other fluids over time, either in a steady stream or in bunches.

This infusion is vital for:

  • Administering pain medication
  • Delivering blood
  •  Administering chemotherapy 
  • Delivering hydrating fluids or nutrients

… among other solutions found in healthcare settings. 

Some infusion pumps are used to carry out specialized procedures. These pumps include:

  • Enteral: An enteral pump can deliver medications and liquids directly to a patient’s digestive tract.

  • Insulin pump: Often used in home settings, this pump delivers insulin to diabetic patients.

  • Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA): Patients can self-administer pain medication with this pump method.

         Other pumps include the following options, consisting of pumps powered electronically and mechanically: 

  • Large-volume: Used in stationary settings, large-volume pumps deliver fluids via a fluid bag containing large amounts of liquid. 

  • Elastomeric: Stimulated by the elastic walls of a balloon reservoir, fluid is driven out of this pump due to elastic pressure. 

  • Syringe: Fluid travels from the reservoir of a syringe to a patient. In the middle, the adjustable piston with the syringe pump controls the delivery of the fluid. 

  • Ambulatory infusion pumps: Portable or wearable infusion pumps. 

… that all aid in delivering a controlled amount of substances to a patient.  

Since infusion pumps are so diverse in function, they also face their own set of challenges. They need to be used, maintained, and stored carefully to prevent physical damage to the unit.

They’re susceptible to:

  • Software issues: Error messages and cybersecurity threats can lead to issues for the actual software built into a pump. 

  • Alarm errors: In the event of an occlusion, the pump may not sound an audible alarm, resulting in a hazard for the patient. 

  • Broken parts: Physical damage such as cracks or water damage can cause an infusion pump to function improperly, leading to under-infusion or over-infusion. 

  • Battery failures: This is sometimes caused by overheating of the battery. In other circumstances, the battery of the pump was not maintained properly or on time. 

  • Fire, charring, spark, or shocks: This can be caused by overheating or improper use.

 Since these pumps are unique in both design and functions, they should be operated and if needed, repaired, by trained technicians who possess a thorough understanding of the pump’s built-in software and physical designs. 

To learn more about infusion pumps or infusion pump repair services, get in touch with us.

Infusion Pumps 101: How do infusion pumps work?

Everything you need to know about the features and parts of an infusion pump and how they work.

Display

The display screen on an infusion pump allows an operator to program the pump for use. They can use the screen to:

  • Input or retrieve patient data

  • Set the length of infusion

  • Set the infusion rate

… among other functions varying based on pump manufacturer and model. 

Power Supplies

Infusion pumps are usually hooked up to an AC power supply in healthcare facilities, but also work on battery power in instances when a patient is being transported from one location to another. Having an offline power supply to hook an infusion pump up to is also crucial.

Alarms

Most infusion pumps come equipped with visible and audible alarms. These alert the operator of errors or potentially dangerous conditions that could interrupt the infusion process or harm the patient. For instance, if the tube that delivers the medication to a patient is blocked by air, the infusion pump’s alarm will go off to notify the operator of a hazard. 

Expansion

Some infusion pump systems are capable of expansion. To deliver additional solutions to a patient, they can connect to an ongoing infusion line.

Programmability

Most infusion pumps can be programmed, letting operators automate intermittent or continuous infusion procedures. Depending on the model and type of infusion pump, you can program the infusion rate, amount, and duration of infusion(s). 

Compatibility

In the context of syringe infusion pumps, they can usually adapt to standard syringes, varying in size based on the manufacturer and model of the pump itself. 

Large volume pumps or volumetric pumps easily connect to standard bags of fluid via a tube. 

How does an IV pump deliver fluids? 

Historically, a standard gravity drip was used (and still is at times) to deliver fluids to patients.


The classic setup broadly includes four parts.

However, you’re more likely to see a large volumetric pump or a syringe pump in healthcare settings today. 


The syringe pump tightly controls the volume of fluid entering the patient by managing the rate of “siphoning”.

For smaller volumes of fluids, a syringe pump is the preferred choice.

A large volumetric pump works on the same principle as the standard gravity drip, but with greater control and accountability over the flow of fluids.

The image above is a simplified version of the syringe pumps you find in healthcare settings today.

A unit like the Baxter AS40 or Baxter AS50 is a more complex instrument:

Infusion pumps, or IV pumps, are invaluable tools in healthcare, and for the past 35 years, AIV has helped biomedical and clinical engineering professionals extend the lives of their infusion pumps by offering:

  • End-of-life services for many popular infusion pumps (up to 5 years beyond manufacturer support)

  • New and recertified infusion pump replacement parts

  • AIV certified infusion pumps - shipped to you patient ready with a 1-year warranty

  • Flat and fixed-rate infusion pump repair

  • Infusion pump subassembly/mechanism repair

To keep your costs down and maintain your legacy infusion pumps with parts of service, get in touch with us here.


About the Author

Laura Collier

Laura Collier has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Florida. She is the Marketing Manager at AIV, Inc.

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