Evaluating infusion pump safety for red blood cell transfusions

What is this research about?

Infusion pumps are mechanical devices commonly used in transfusion medicine. Originally designed to assist in the delivery of fluid resuscitation products like crystalloids, infusion pumps have also come to be used in the transfusion of blood products as they can offer benefits to both patients and health-care teams. These benefits can include greater consistency and calculation of flow rate, increased accuracy of infusion volume, increased flexibility in transfusion speed in outpatient settings, and decreased risk of errors compared to gravity-based infusions. However, the growing use of infusion pumps has raised questions about the risk of mechanical damage to red blood cells (RBC).  

Health-care facilities that use these pumps rely on manufacturers and regulators to determine whether specific models are approved for infusing red blood cells. There is a lack of literature available to help guide evaluation of infusion pumps for this use and to understand the effects of different conditions, rates, and pump types on the quality of RBCs. Research providing clear evidence on the effect of infusion pumps on RBCs can be valuable to regulators, manufacturers, and health-care facilities responsible for evaluating pump safety for transfusions.  

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