Ambulatory care is the type of medical care dispensed to an individual on an outpatient basis, requiring little to no hospital admittance. This can be considered one of the most important types of medical care nowadays. It allows patients to receive the healthcare they need without shouldering the enormous financial burden of hospital admission. More than that, it’s also beneficial to the healthcare system because it affords hospitals breathing room when managing their limited resources. After all, fewer patients being admitted means less stress on their often overworked medical staff and less on their finances.
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 discuss four crucial tools—infusion systems employed in ambulatory care.
The Ambulatory Enteral Feeding Pump
Ambulatory enteral feeding pumps—or motorized enteral feeding pumps for outpatient care— are automated devices 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 strength. Specifically, the use of an enteral feeding pump is necessary for 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, putting them at a high risk of choking or aspirating.
- The patient has difficulty eating enough food to fulfill their nutritional requirements, such as some infants and elderly individuals.
The proper and hygienic use of an ambulatory enteral feeding pump can help the patient receive the appropriate nutrition and hydration needed to avoid malnutrition and dehydration. These conditions can not only result in delaying the patient’s recovery, but 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 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 the same way as feeding pumps, with one exception: they’re meant to deliver fluids in tiny volumes and usually at precisely programmed rates or intervals. 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 administered intravenously rather than taken orally. By utilizing an infusion pump, patients can safely administer their required medication independently without the usual risks associated with manual injections. This affords them a sense of normalcy and freedom, allowing them to go about their daily routines while still managing their condition. Moreover, it eschews the patients’ need to constantly seek aid from a nurse or doctor when they need their medication.
Some home infusion pumps also have safety features that protect against overdosage 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 overdose 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 the same way as a syringe, 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 healthy enough patients to be up and about in their daily lives but still require long-term but regular doses of their prescribed medication. Auto-injectors are often used to administer drugs that manage chronic conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and anemia. Auto-injectors are also used for patients at risk of anaphylaxis to self-administer epinephrine.
Auto-injectors are important as they allow patients to self-administer their medicine without contending 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 self-treatment.
The Insulin Pump
The Insulin pump is a home infusion-type pump specifically designed to facilitate the safe, accurate, and precise insulin administration for the lifelong management of blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. It is programmed to deliver a continuous supply of insulin for 24 hours and administer additional doses upon its user’s request 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 additional insulin dose. This allows the patient to keep their blood glucose levels in their desired range without manually administering insulin or visiting a healthcare clinic. Moreover, unlike home infusion pumps, insulin pumps are made to be portable and easily concealable in pockets or underneath clothes.
An insulin pump offers diabetic patients 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.
Long hospital admissions and confinements often come to mind when we think about managing lifelong chronic conditions. This puts undue strain on the patient’s mental health and finances and stresses their admitting hospital’s limited resources and overworked staff. However, thanks to ambulatory care devices, patients can receive the important healthcare they need without shouldering the expense of long hospital stays or hiring an in-house caregiver or healthcare provider.