Intravenous infusion pumps are used in hospitals to control both the rate and amount of fluid or medication that is given to a patient. You may also hear it being called an ‘IV’, ‘IMED’, ‘drip’, ‘IVAC’ or ‘pump’.
Typical Infusion Pumps
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How Does it Work?
The infusion pump allows the nurses and doctors to set the amount of fluid or medication that needs to be delivered to a patient each hour. Fluid and/or medication is delivered to the patient through plastic tubing, and is connected to an intravenous cannula. The intravenous cannula is a small plastic tube which is inserted into the patient’s vein, usually in the arm (peripherally), or in the neck or groin (centrally). The central catheter allows fluids to be given quickly, and potent medications to be given without skin irritation. Monitoring the infusion (drip) rate is especially important when the patient is critically ill, dehydrated (dry), or requires life saving medications. You may hear the pumps alarm from time to time. These alarms alert the nurse when the infusion has finished or when there is a problem with the delivery of the infusion.
Are There Any Complications?
All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for the patient.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.
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The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual patient variation. In addition it reflects Australian intensive care practice which may differ from other countries. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. ICCMU attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.
Intravenous Infusion Pumps ~ Version 1.2
First published June 2004
Reviewed November 2011
Reviewed by Kay Johnson CNS ICCMU