One for All

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Seeing an opportunity, infusion pump task force refused to simply go with the flow

At a large facility like The Johns Hopkins Hospital, replacing an essential item like a discontinued infusion pump isn’t as easy as swapping Brand B for Brand A. It’s as much culture change as equipment change. So when it was time to purchase a medical system’s worth of such pumps, which deliver fluids—medications or nutrients—into a patient’s body in controlled amounts, a task force couldn’t afford to be short-sighted.

In this case, an oncology pump had been discontinued and another widely used set of pumps was aging. It was a problem that offered an opportunity to seek one pump for all. “At the beginning, the hospital leadership could have said, ‘We’re already with [Brand A], so they’re going to give us the best deal,’ ” says Elizabeth Zink, MS, RN. “The hospital didn’t take that position.”

One Pump stands out more than the rest

Illustration by Jon Marchione

Yes, “Money is still an issue,” adds clinical pharmacy specialist Haley Gibbs, PharmD. “But Step One was to come up with a pump that would be suitable for our institution. It would be a huge switch for nursing, anesthesia, and other areas.”

Zink and Gibbs co-chaired the Infusion Pump Task Force. (The third member was Pete Doyle, PhD, human factor engineer.) Already working together regularly on system-wide—even hospital-wide—changes, Zink and Gibbs began collecting “desired specifications from all the stakeholders [and] developed a checklist” of the requests … almost two-dozen pump characteristics. Topping the list? “Wireless library updates,” says Gibbs.

After initial vendor demonstrations, the task force voted on which pumps to bring onsite for hands-on testing. A group of 30 testers (the majority nurses, but also anesthesia providers) spent two days in an auditorium, getting a 10-minute training session from each pump vendor and then putting the pumps through their paces, “a very objective, systematic set of tasks on each pump,” says Zink. “We were … able to see safety issues and mistakes that were made.”

The task force then presented its two finalists to the hospital’s financial group for the negotiation phase, comfortable with either choice and satisfied with its painstaking effort. “Staff was heard and we took time to really evaluate safety features, risk of error, and incorporating human factors [among others],” says Zink.

The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center received the new pumps in 2014, with the rest of the Baltimore facility to get them this fall.

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