Founded by brigham and women's hospital and massachusetts general hospital

Office of Continuing Professional Development

Syringe Infusion Pumps: How They Operate and the Clinical Implications

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Syringe infusion pumps play an important role in the delivery of medication. They have distinct benefits for neonate, pediatric and adult patient groups. However, as with any sophisticated device there are some important considerations to keep in mind as we continue to use them to provide excellent care. These considerations are not always clearly evident and without understanding the mechanisms and physics of how these pumps function unintentional complications may arise.

This two part online series will discuss how syringe infusion pumps operate and how the nuances of this mechanism can have clinical implications. Each module is intended to bring knowledge and awareness of some topics we need to remain mindful of, so we know what to expect and how best to respond in certain situations. Furthermore, these modules aim to provide some guidance and recommendations to consider, for helping prevent or mitigate certain elements of syringe infusion pump operation that can result in undesirable clinical responses.

Start Date:October 14, 2016
End Date:October 13, 2017
Duration Module 1: 60 Minutes
Duration Module 2: 75 Minutes

Module Instructions
To complete each of the two modules, you must view the webinar and complete the pre-test, post-test and evaluation.

The following planners and content developers and/or their spouse/partner have reported no relevant financial relationship with a commercial interest:
Christopher Colvin
M. Ellen Kinnealey, RN, MSHI
Nathaniel M. Sims, MD

The following moderator-recorded voice and/or their spouse/partner have reported no relevant financial relationship with a commercial interest:
Jerold Fleishman, DPM

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

1. Identify the general mechanisms by which syringe infusion pumps operate.
2. Assess how the way in which syringe infusion pumps' operate, in combination with the physical properties of the syringe and tubing, can impact startup delays in delivery, flow rate irregularities, unintended boluses, and temporary flow rate changes.
3. Recognize practices that can assist with mitigating unintended delays or disruptions to the delivery of medications when using syringe infusion pumps.

Target Audience

These globally facing modules are intended for medical professionals, including, but not limited to, Physicians: Anesthesia, Intensive Care Unit Specialists, Emergency Department MDs and nurses, pharmacists, technicians, and quality/safety personnel. Anyone that may have some level of interaction with syringe pumps, or preparing medications to be used in a syringe pump, would benefit from the information provided within these two modules.


To complete each of the two modules, view the webinar and complete the pre-test, post-test and evaluation.

Module 1: Syringe Infusion Pumps: How they operate and the clinical implications - Part 1

Module 2: Syringe Infusion Pumps: How they operate and the clinical implications - Part 2


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Nathaniel M. Sims, MD, Course Director
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital

Nat Sims, M.D., is a clinician, teacher and cardiac anesthesiologist. He's an Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School and physician advisor to Biomedical Engineering at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. Dr. Sims is a strategic and hands-on innovator who has developed numerous technologies that make patient care safer and more efficient while reducing cost. Working with interdisciplinary teams at MGH, Dr. Sims and his colleagues pioneered improvements in patient monitoring, patient transport and error-free intravenous drug delivery systems. The original concepts for "Smart Drug Infusion Pumps" were developed in 1992, by Dr. Sims and implemented clinically in 1997. Dr. Sims holds numerous U.S. patents and has used licensing revenues for the advancement of medical technology development and innovation and patient safety. Dr. Sims is the recipient of many awards and recognitions for his significant contributions to the advancement of medical instrumentation and patient safety.

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Christopher Colvin
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital

Christopher Colvin is a Clinical Engineer within the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Christopher received his Masters of Health Science in Clinical Engineering from the University of Toronto, Canada; completing his thesis on healthcare incident reporting systems and infusion safety. Prior to completing his masters he received his Bachelor of Engineering in Biological Engineering from the University of Guelph, Canada.

For the past several years, Christopher has been working in the areas of healthcare human factors and instructional design. He has been involved in facilitating human factors research and has designed eLearning courses on medical device usage, anesthesia management and infusion safety. Christopher strives to create educational material in ways that leverage the use of graphics, animations, and interactivity to promote greater engagement with the topics.

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Jerold Fleishman, DPM

Jerry is a full-time, professional male voice over talent who specializes in Medical Narration, anddelivers voiceover services worldwide.

Before his career in medicine, Jerry was an Account Director for major national advertisingagencies in Boston, New York and San Francisco, responsible for brand development, marketingand client relations. His background, working within both medicine and advertising, enables him to fluently voice complex medical narrations, yet comfortably deliver targeted corporate communications.

His voiceover services include medical animations, pharmaceutical MOA/MOD, corporatenarrations, e-Learning & online learning tutorials and web videos.

Jerry is passionate about the world of healthcare and enjoys sharing this passion with others. He'scommitted to providing a voice that can inspire and motivate your audience, while teaching andexplaining things as well. Think of him as the doctor who takes that little bit of extra time to explaina diagnosis to you so that you fully understand it, or that special teacher who is able to make a drysubject truly come alive. That's Jerry!

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M. Ellen Kinnealey, RN, MSHI

M. Ellen Kinnealey is a Registered Nurse and a Perioperative Informatics Staff Specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Ellen received a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., and received a Masters in Heath Informatics from Northeastern University, Boston. Currently, Ellen is a credentialed trainer for the OpTime and Anesthesia Epic Electronic Documentation applications and one of the Perioperative Nursing Clinical leads for Perioperative Informatics. Previously, Ellen held the position of RN Technology Specialist within the MGH Biomedical Engineering Department for 19 years; and she was part of the Smart Infusion Pump Implementation team, the Drug Library Software Manager at MGH and Drug Library consultant to other Partners entities. Ellen, was awarded the Janssen Elder Care Award by the National Patient Safety Foundation in 2003, for the publication entitled: "Infusion Pumps with Drug Libraries at the Point of Care: A Solution for Safer Delivery", which she co-authored.

Registration Information

This activity is free of charge.


For questions regarding this activity, please contactNat Sims, or 617-930-9406.

For technical questions, contact Partners Office of Continuing Professional Development at or 617-535-6430.

CME Information

There is no CME credit for this activity.

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