• Three patients given overdoses of fentanyl at one NHS trust
  • Smart infusion pumps were involved in all three incidents
  • HSIB will investigate challenges of adopting the new technology

A national safety investigation has been launched into the NHS’ use of so-called ‘smart pumps’ after three patients received an overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch told HSJ it would be examining how hospitals adopt the new technology amid concerns the infusion pumps could lead to serious harm or deaths.

HSJ has learned the overdoses happened in one NHS trust where three adult patients were fitted with smart infusion pumps, which deliver drugs intravenously.

The patients were not seriously harmed as the overdoses were identified in time.

The pumps are supposed to have built-in dose error software to reduce the chances of harm if the pumps are setup incorrectly.

However, HSIB said its initial research suggested it may be challenging to integrate smart pumps with existing systems used to administer IV medication in NHS hospitals.

It said: “The investigation will examine the current procurement, usability and adoption of the smart pumps, and look at what might be needed to introduce smart pumps effectively in trusts across England.”

The independent body will carry out an investigation and produce an interim bulletin before a full report including any safety recommendations.

The HSJ Digital Transformation Summit, taking place at the Crowne Plaza, Stratford-upon-Avon from 12-13 February 2020, unites 120+ senior leaders from across the provider, commissioning and STP landscape with those who have leveraged technology to drive tangible improvements across other industries, to discuss how to realise your digital visions in a cash-limited environment and scale up innovations to improve quality and outcomes for your local population.

Held under the Chatham House Rule, attendees will quiz NHSX and other national figures on general policy direction and co-develop solutions to their local challenges with innovators from across the country. The Summit is free to attend for senior NHS digital leaders – register your interest here https://digitaltransformation.hsj.co.uk