Wirral Hospice St John’s Information regarding Syringe Drivers
T34 Syringe Pump: Information for patients and carers
What is a syringe pump?
The syringe pump is a small portable battery operated pump that pushes a syringe to give your medication usually over a set period of 24 hours, (or in some cases 12 hours whilst in the hospice).
The syringe that is connected to the pump is filled with medicine that has been prescribed by your doctor to help your symptoms. Your medicine will be reviewed on a regular basis and may be changed if necessary.
You do not need to do anything to the syringe pump. The medicine will continue to be absorbed over 24 hours or 12 hours, continuously helping your symptoms.
Why do I need a syringe pump?
Syringe pumps are used for several reasons; it is a simpler, more reliable and comfortable way to give medication to people who would otherwise need repeated injections.
This may be when:
- It is difficult to swallow medicine in tablet or liquid form.
- Frequent vomiting means tablets do not stay in the stomach long enough for them to work.
- Medicine is not being absorbed well in the digestive system.
Will I always need the Syringe Pump?
If at any time it is felt that the oral (swallowed) medicines will work effectively again the use of the syringe pump will be reviewed and it may be taken down.
Who will look after my syringe pump?
Your nurses at home, in the hospice, hospital or the care home will check your syringe pump regularly to make sure that it is working well, the needle is comfortable and there are no problems with the medicines. They will change the syringe each day (as required).
How will the syringe pump be connected to me?
A long thin tube is connected to the syringe, with a tiny needle at the other end. Your doctor or nurse will insert the needle, just under the skin, usually in your upper chest area or upper arm. They will put a clear dressing over the needle to keep it clean, dry and in place. Once the needle is in place you should not feel it and it can stay there for several days.
What do I need to look out for?
- Your symptoms: Tell your nurse or doctor if your symptoms continue once the syringe pump is set up, or get worse in any way.
- Your skin: Sometimes the medicine in the syringe can cause a skin reaction. Your nurse will check the needle site regularly. If the area becomes sore, the needle will be moved to another part of your body.
How will I know the syringe pump is working?
If the syringe pump is working normally a green light will flash twice a minute next to the on/off button. If the pump has stopped for any reason this light will turn red.
If you notice any of the following contact your nurse:
- The colour of the medicines in the tubing or syringe has changed.
- There is a cloudiness or sediment in the tubing or syringe.
- The skin around the needle is red, swollen or painful.
Please do not attempt to remove the syringe or press any of the buttons on the pump unless instructed to by your nurse.
What else do I need to look out for?
Syringe pumps are quite strong but they can be damaged by dropping or being crushed.
A syringe pump must not get wet. Ask your nurse for advice about washing or showering.
Keep the syringe contents out of direct sunlight, and do not allow them to become too hot. Avoid placing the pump next to a heat pad, hot water bottle or electric blanket. Ask your nurse for advice on the best place to keep your syringe pump, or to provide a fabric holder if you want to be mobile.
What alarms & alerts may I see or hear?
Low/End Battery: Battery needs changing.
Occlusion: Line is kinked or blocked.
Pump Paused Too Long: Pump has been stopped for more than 2 minutes.
Program Completed: The infusion is complete.
Syringe Displaced: The syringe has become detached from the pump mechanism.
For any of these alarms please call the nursing team or your Community Nurses if you are at home. Out of Hours Nurses 5pm – 8.30am (24 hrs weekends and bank holidays) 0151 514 2222, Option 1.
The following alert is not an emergency as even if the alarm sounds the medication already in your body will continue to work for a number of hours.
Syringe Nearly Empty: This alert will sound towards the end of the infusion (2 beeps every 2 minutes); the nursing team should be on their way to change the infusion.