Ambulatory care refers to the type of medical care that is dispensed to an individual in an outpatient basis, requiring little to no hospital admittance. This can be considered as one of the most important types of medical care nowadays, as it allows patients to receive the healthcare they need without them having to shoulder the enormous financial burden of being admitted to a hospital. More than that, it’s also beneficial to the healthcare system as a whole because it affords hospitals some breathing room when it comes to managing their own limited resources. After all, fewer patients being admitted means less stress on their often overworked medical staff, and less stress on their finances as well.
That said, ambulatory care wouldn’t be possible without the availability of critical medical tools since many of these implements are indispensable in ensuring that patients receive the proper healthcare they need even at home. In this article, we’ll be talking about four of these crucial tools—infusion systems that are employed in ambulatory care.
The Ambulatory Enteral Feeding Pump
Ambulatory enteral feeding pumps—or motorized enteral feeding pumps for outpatient care— are automated devices that are used to provide nutrition to patients who are either suffering from conditions that prevent them from taking in food and liquids normally, or are too weak or infirm to do so on their own strength. Specifically, the use of an enteral feeding pump is necessary in the following situations:
- The patient has problems with certain parts of their digestive system, such as their mouth, esophagus, or stomach.
- The patient suffers from a condition that prevents them from swallowing properly, which puts them at a high risk of choking or aspirating.
- The patient has difficulty in taking in enough food to fulfill their nutritional requirements, such as in some infants and elderly individuals.
Whichever the reason, the proper and hygienic use of an ambulatory enteral feeding pump can help the patient to receive the proper amount of nutrition and hydration they need in order to avoid malnutrition and dehydration. These conditions can not only result in delaying the patient’s recovery, they can also cause severe health complications.
How an ambulatory enteral feeding pump works is simple enough. First, a sanitized feeding bag is filled with nutritional formula or food. It’s then connected to an airtight tube that leads to both the pump and the patient’s tube entry site or G-tube site. The feeding pump is then turned on, and the miniature motors inside the pump ensure an even and constant flow of food and fluid from the feeding bag to the patient. After the required amount of fluid is dispensed, the pump is switched off, and everything is cleaned for the next use.
The Home Infusion Pump
Motorized home infusion pumps are medical devices that work in the same way as feeding pumps, with one particular exception: they’re meant to deliver fluids in very small volumes, and usually at precisely programmed rates or intervals. As such, this makes them perfect for the accurate and automated administration of important medicaments such as insulin, chemotherapy drugs, pain relievers, hormones, and more.
Home infusion pumps are usually used by patients who rely upon medicines that are administered intravenously rather than taken orally. By utilizing an infusion pump, a patient can safely administer their required medication by themselves without the usual risks associated with manual injections. Moreover, it eschews the need for the patients to constantly seek aid from a nurse or doctor when they need their medication. This affords them a sense of normalcy and freedom, allowing them to go about their daily routines while still being able to manage their condition.
Some home infusion pumps also come equipped with safety features, such as those that actively protect against over dosage or warn against adverse drug interactions. These features add another layer of safety and peace of mind for the patient and their loved ones, especially when an overdosing incident may result in severe health complications.
The auto-injector is essentially a smaller, hand-operated version of the home infusion pump that does not require tubes or a complicated setup to work. Rather, it works in the same way as a syringe does, except that the administration of the drug it contains is done either through an automated, spring-loaded gauge needle, or through a jet of highly pressurized gas that pushes the medication through the skin.
This makes the auto-injector perfect for patients who are healthy enough to be up and about on their daily lives, but still require long-term but regular doses of their prescribed medication. As such, auto-injectors are often used to administer drugs that manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and anemia. Auto-injectors are also used as a way for patients at risk of anaphylaxis to self-administer epinephrine.
Auto-injectors are important as they afford the patient the ability to self-administer their medicine without having to contend with the difficult and often painstaking method of manual syringe injections. Some auto-injectors are also easily reloadable, allowing for a more hygienic and cost-effective way of self-treatment.
The Insulin Pump
The Insulin pump is a home infusion-type of pump that is specifically designed to facilitate the safe, accurate, and precise administration of insulin for the life-long management of blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. It is programmed to deliver a continuous supply of insulin for 24 hours, as well as to administer additional doses upon its user’s request, in order to take food intake into account.
For example, if the patient has a higher food intake than normal, they only need to press a button on their insulin pump to receive an immediate additional dose of insulin. This allows the patient to keep their blood glucose levels in their desired range without having to administer insulin manually, or to visit a healthcare clinic to do so. Moreover, unlike home infusion pumps, insulin pumps are made to be portable and easily concealable in pockets or underneath clothes.
An insulin pump offers the diabetic patient a way to adjust their self-treatment according to their lifestyle, not the other way around. This allows the patient to continue living their lives normally, while still keeping their health in check.
Ambulatory care devices allow for a more cost-effective and patient-centric approach to health care
When we think about managing lifelong chronic conditions, long hospital admissions and confinements often come to mind. This not only puts undue strain on the patient’s mental health and finances, but also stresses their admitting hospital’s limited resources and overworked staff. Thanks to ambulatory care devices, however, patients can receive the important healthcare they need without having to shoulder the expense of long hospital stays or hiring an in-house caregiver or healthcare provider.