Ambulatory infusion pump frees patients

Saturday, May 31, 2003

MERIDIAN, Miss.— Patients relying on infusion treatment for such therapies as chemotherapy and pain management must no longer feel bound to an intravenous pole.

Vital Care, which operates 120 infusion pharmacies, has recently introduced a small, beeper-size, ambulatory pump, which clips to the user’s belt and can be inserted into the hand or arm. The pump serves as a portable IV and can be hidden underneath clothes.

“You just clip it on and go do whatever it is you need to do,” said Heather Stephens, advertising coordinator for Vital Care. “Technology has brought home infusion a long way.”

The portable IV pump is just part of the growth home infusion has made in recent years as institutional care for patients needing nutrition, chemotherapy, antibiotic, hydration or pain management therapies has lost ground to more flexible options.

Stephens admits the 17-year-old infusion therapy company’s mission has expanded as technology has made home care more convenient. The growth of the industry, she said, is a direct link to patients wanting to care for themselves and stay out of hospitals.

“Patients are taking more control of their home care now,” said Stephens. “If all you need is an IV, why not go home? It definitely decreases your chance of getting infections by going home.”

In April, Vital Care also created a new position: director of clinical services. Pharmacist Scott Clark will now coordinate patient and pharmacist meetings, where the patient can be educated and trained on the equipment and therapy process for his particular treatment. HME