An infusion pump draws fluid from a standard bag of intravenous fluid and controls the rate of flow. It provides accurate and continuous therapy. Because it can use any size bag of intravenous fluid, an infusion pump can be used to deliver fluids at either a very slow or very fast infusion rate. Some pumps are able to control a single intravenous line, whereas, other infusion pumps have 3 pumps built into one device. These “triple pumps” are used to save space.
A syringe pump is a different type of infusion delivery device. Instead of drawing fluid from an infusion bag, intravenous medications are drawn into a syringe and installed into the device. Because syringe pumps contain a maximum volume of 50 ml, syringe pumps are used to administer medications that have very small hourly volumes (for example, usually less than 5 ml/hr). If the hourly volume requirements increase, an infusion pump is generally used to deliver the medication. Syringe pumps are more compact and take up less space than infusion pumps. This becomes important when the patient is on many different infusions.