A Guide to Different Types of Infusion Pumps

Oftentimes, a standard IV drip powered by gravity does not allow for the degree of control and precision hospitals need. While nurses can provide highly tailored administration of fluids manually, this is rarely practical, as many infusions must be dosed frequently over long periods of time. With the advent of infusion pumps, hospitals gained the ability to administer injections as minute as 0.1mL per hour, or as frequently as every minute.

Different uses for infusion pumps

The purpose of infusion pumps is to provide tailored treatment — some even allow the patient to dose themselves according to their personal needs, as with patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps. Infusion pump technology has numerous practical applications, from chemo drugs for cancer treatment, to pain relief, to help with diabetes, to antibiotics for treatment of infection. Their widespread utility has made IV infusion pumps invaluable, with the market projected to exceed $5 billion by 2024.

Smart pumps

With the invention of smart pumps, the incidence rate of errors pertaining to medication administration was reduced dramatically. The primary purpose of infusion pumps is to dose patients extremely accurately and consistently every time. Hospital staff administering medication no longer have to worry about complex calculations of doses and measurement conversions, as smart pumps have drug data already programmed, as well as built-in dose error reduction systems (DERS).

Different infusion pump features

Depending on the setting in which they will be used, infusion pumps have two options pertaining to mobility:

  • Ambulatory infusion pumps: These pumps are used for patients who are not confined to a hospital bed. The user can take these infusion devices infusion devices with them, and will be be given medication to treat chronic disease.
  • Stationary infusion pumps: As the name implies, these pumps do not leave the room in which they are placed. These infusion devices are used for patients who are immobile and require a constant supply of nutrients, fluids, and/or medication.

Depending on the purpose of infusion pumps, their size can vary. There are two sizes:

  • Syringe/small volume infusion pumps: These infusion pumps tend to be used exclusively for medication.
  • Large volume infusion pumps: These larger infusion pumps are typically used for more diluted fluids, such as nutrient drips.


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