The use of therapeutic infusion systems to treat patients in hospitals is standard procedure but there are always occasional errors. Tubes can bend or connectors can detach. David Große Wentrup of the Münster University of Applied Sciences, Germany, has developed a technical system to monitor infusion systems, which now also completely monitors the lines.
Mr. Große Wentrup, how are infusion systems generally constructed?
David Große Wentrup: There is a broad spectrum of infusion systems. The simplest system consists of an infusion container with the IV solution, a mechanism to regulate the infusion flow rate, for instance a simple roller clamp, an infusion line and the patient access. However, the number of individual components as well as the complexity of infusion systems increases drastically in practice. Patients with more than ten infusion pumps in parallel are quite common in intensive care units. This number necessitates an abundance of lines, filters, manifolds and T-connectors. Keeping track of everything is understandably difficult at times.
How frequent are errors in infusion administration?
Große Wentrup: The number of deaths due to preventable adverse events in hospitals varies with the different studies. However, it is undisputed that the number of preventable incidents is far too high. Drug therapy makes up a significant percentage in this area while there can also be a number of incidents during infusion therapy. Infusion tubes can bend for example, connections can detach or T-connectors can be in the wrong position. Detecting these and other errors is made even more difficult for instance in situations with darkened operating room settings or partially covered patients. Added to this is the fact that the workload of clinical staff is already extremely high during the sometimes hectic day-to-day clinical practice.