Skip to main content

Ambulatory Pump Safety: Managing Home Infusion Patients Admitted to the ED and Hospital

December 10, 2015

Before the 1980s, patients had to be hospitalized to receive various types of infusion therapies to treat diseases unresponsive to oral medications. Since then, the availability of lightweight ambulatory pumps has made infusion therapy possible in alternative settings outside the hospital, including in the home. A new market research study suggests that the use of ambulatory pumps is commonplace and will continue to grow at an annual rate of about 9% over the next five years.

As with any medication delivery system, patient safety can be jeopardized if the devices are mishandled when filling, programming, attaching, and monitoring the pumps. The ambulatory pump marketplace is diverse, so the devices rarely have standard components. This poses a unique challenge for healthcare providers when patients using these devices are admitted to an emergency department (ED) or hospital. Often, healthcare providers are not familiar with all the ambulatory pumps in use, and most patients who use these devices are ill informed, leading to serious errors—the most dangerous of which is overinfusion.

How does your organization stay on top of the variety of ambulatory pumps that patients may bring in and/or use in your organization?


Matthew Grissinger, RPh, FISMP, FASCP, is the Director of Error Reporting Programs at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.



Back to Top