Prevalent PCA Pump Problems (And How To Prevent Them)
The Materiel Services Department at the University of Michigan Health Systems estimates that 86% of all patients admitted to hospital beds require infusion pumps. In many cases, patient-controlled analgesia (or PCA) is the best way to ensure medication is administered effectively and safely while giving the patient a better sense of control over their treatment.
But not every PCA module is created equal, and there are many PCA infusion pumps that will require some troubleshooting. Smart pumps, like the Alaris PCA pumps, have been known to reduce medication errors and ensure greater patient comfort. But to be efficient, even Alaris PCA pumps need to be utilized correctly. Below, you'll find some of the most common issues that present themselves when PCA infusion pumps are used and how to prevent these problems from occurring in the first place.
Patient Pain Due To Improper Activation
Although giving a patient more control over their pain level can be highly beneficial, it can sometimes make patients uncomfortable or uncertain about how to proceed. Some patients might be afraid of becoming addicted to (or overdosing on) an opioid medication. Others may not realize they need more medication until their pain levels have significantly increased.
By reassuring patients that they won't be able to override the proper dosage or intervals that their Alaris PCA pumps have set, medical professionals can put their patients' minds at ease in terms of a drug overdose possibility. Hospital staff members should also let patients and their families ask questions and let them know that the risk of addiction and withdrawal symptoms is quite small due to the gradual decrease of medication over time. Finally, it's important to let patients know that they should not wait until they feel pain to press the medication button; they should instead follow proper time intervals to ensure their pain level stays low and consistent.
Patient Confusion About Using PCA Pumps
Keep in mind that using a PCA pump will be a new concept for most patients. Understanding how the pump works and how to use it may be a bit overwhelming for them, particularly if they first hear about it after surgery and/or when they're under sedation. Whenever possible, explain the process beforehand, as this will give the patient more time to gain understanding and ask for clarification if needed.
If teaching a patient in advance is not possible, be sure to provide written instructions for their review. In addition, make sure your patient has access to their hearing devices or glasses, if applicable before you begin your instruction. This will ensure they can hear and see everything they need to. For patients who have family members present during your demonstration, stress that only the patient should be responsible for dispensing medication through their PCA pump.
Poor Patient Reaction To Medication
While Alaris PCA pumps contain a virtual library of medication to ensure patients don't have adverse drug interactions, doctors don't always know how a particular patient will react to a given medication. Medical staff may know about common side effects, of course, but every medication will produce a different result in each patient.
of Patients admitted to hospital beds Require Infusion Pumps
That's why it's important to pay close attention to how a patient reacts to a given drug therapy. Opioid therapy, for instance, often results in nausea and/or vomiting during the first days of treatment. However, some patients are very sensitive to opioids and their symptoms may continue or worsen during or after this time period. In cases like these, the patient's physician should be notified; they will determine whether the patient's dosage should be decreased or whether the medication should be changed entirely. Patients should also be encouraged to disclose past medication side effects like this so that these problems can be avoided.
While Alaris PCA pumps are indeed "smart," medical staff members will still need to be properly trained and must thoroughly instruct their patients so that these infusion pumps can be used correctly. That way, the medical technology can adequately support your efforts (and visa-versa). To find out more about our infusion pumps and other medical equipment, contact us today.