Share for better care

Pilot project: Partnering to improve access to IV pumps

Consider it a nuisance searching for misplaced keys? Imagine the frustration of healthcare workers who waste time hunting down missing medical equipment. All the more because tracking an AWOL IV pump not only costs time—it can compromise health.

JGH nurses routinely run into difficulty locating IV pumps for their patients, according to a survey conducted by the IV Optimization Committee. Unable to find an available intravenous pump
on their floor, nurses and PABs have had to head over to other units in search of a free pump.  “On such occasions, patients who would benefit from having an IV pump may be delayed in receiving their treatment,” says committee co-chair Erin Cook, head nurse at the Segal Cancer Centre Oncology Clinic.

In searching for ways to improve access to IV pumps, Ms. Cook, along with co-chair Sophie-Line Kettenbeil, developed a three-month pump-sharing pilot project. They identified two adjacent units—8 NorthWest and 8 West—and starting in spring, will offer them a common, centralized space where their 40 allocated pumps will be stored.

“To reinforce the partnership, we plan on assembling all of the healthcare workers who handle pumps from both departments to discuss the objectives of the program. We’ll also cover practical information on how and where to retrieve and return the pumps,” explains Ms. Kettenbeil, a clinical nurse specialist in E.N.T. and Thoracic Surgery.

Taking a hard line on wandering pumps

“As a secondary benefit, we are hoping that this arrangement will also increase the use of pumps, which have an inefficient tendency to ‘travel’ to other units in the hospital and vanish from view,” says Ms. Cook. “Currently, forty per cent of hospital pumps are underutilized, because they are hidden in cupboards or patient rooms by healthcare workers who are concerned they won’t find an available pump when they need one.” To ensure that staff will never be at a loss for an IV pump, the pilot project pumps will be tagged with fluorescent markers identifying the units’ names, and stored in locked cupboards.

The program is designed to make better use of hospital resources, says Ms. Kettenbeil. It is more cost-efficient to optimize the use of existing JGH supplies than to replace errant pumps by buying new ones.

In creating a program of cooperation between departments, we will have more time to devote to practices that enhance safety—Sophie-Line Kettenbeil

The committee has tagged all hospital pumps with devices that can trace their movement throughout the hospital. They can also determine who is programming the drug library that is encoded in each pump, a feature that reduces the risk of medical errors in medicating patients. “The units vary in their adherence to the use of the library,” says Ms. Kettenbeil. “They named as a barrier their limited access to pumps and loss of time in locating one, which left little time to program the pump. In creating a program of cooperation between departments, our staff will have more time to devote to practices that enhance safety, hopefully leading to better outcomes for our patients,” she concluded.

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