I noticed a strange referrer in my servier logs today that lead me to this paper (pdf here) published in the AAMI Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology journal. In this paper, Ron Snodgrass presents an overview of smart pumps, with a focus on drug errors reduction systems (DERS).

The general purpose pumps of today have served the healthcare industry well because they offer clinicians broad range programming flexibility for dose rate and volume parameters that can treat the entire hospital population from infants to adults. For example, the infusion rate on most infusion pumps can be programmed to deliver as little as one drop per hour to as much as 1 liter per hour. At the same time, the volume to be infused settings can also be programmed to deliver in the wide range of 0.1 ml to 9,999 ml. Unfortunately, this combination of broad range programming and the flexibility of serving patients in all age groups exposes the potential for user programming errors and also opens the door to lethal doses or adverse drug events.

Ron goes on to lay out the drug errors reduction system value proposition.


Since today’s pumps rely heavily on human intelligence for programming without limits or restrictions, medication delivery errors are going to happen. To combat this problem, infusion pumps must be designed with the capability to place dose limitations on IV medications and provide clinicians the opportunity to double check their delivery settings before administering to their patients. Let me introduce you to the next generation of infusion pumps that offers these unique safety features known as “smart pumps.”

Smart pump is a term that was adopted by the Institute for Safe Medical Practices (ISMP) because these new infusion pumps are designed to significantly reduce medication errors (ME) and also because they provide pertinent data to support continuous quality improvement initiatives for increasing patient safety. Smart pumps incorporate software programs known as a dose error reduction system (DERS). Keep in mind, each manufacturer of smart pumps has its own unique name for their specific DERS program. Most DERS on the market today provide the following primary medication management safety features:

What caught my eye was the fact that this site was listed in a "For More Information" sidebar as a source for the latest on "Smart IV Pumps and Safety." Thank you, Ron, for including this site.