An audit of subcutaneous syringe drivers in a non-specialist hospital.

K. Dunne, Kate Sullivan, A. Garvey, George Kernohan, A. Diamond, C. Duffy, J. Hutchinson

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The use of syringe drivers as a method of drug delivery to control symptoms in palliative care is a common and accepted practice, but one which has evolved rather than been subject to close multiprofessional scrutiny and guideline formation. There is evidence that adverse incidents may arise as a result of syringe driver use (Medical Devices Agency (MDA), 1998), for example, errors in drug calculations, drug stability, equipment failure (including disconnection) and the wrong rate of infusion. Inadequate user training, poor servicing of equipment and inadequate documentation and record keeping are all thought to be contributing factors (MDA, 1998). In the hospital where this audit was carried out, syringe drivers are used to administer drugs to patients with cancer during the palliative phase of illness. The purpose of this clinical audit was to establish the standard of current practice in wards where syringe drivers were being used. A retrospective study of 13 cases of syringe driver use is presented. The results highlight many areas of unregulated practice with regard to setting up, monitoring and maintenance of syringe drivers. The choice of drugs and doses prescribed, evaluation of treatment responses and review of treatment regimens were also areas of concern. Guidelines for the use of syringe drivers in non-specialist hospitals are put forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-219
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 May 2000

Bibliographical note

Output of research completed in partnership between Sullivan and Kernohan (Ulster) with staff of Clinical Education Centre and Western Trust


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