2010-2011 DSA

eliasSmart pump simulation, design, development and testing

Using funding from a 2010-2011 Dean's Scholar Award, Assistant Professor Beth Elias, PhD, MS, sought to develop a computer-based simulation of a Smart Intravenous Infusion Pump and to verify and validate the simulation, comparing it to the actual Smart Pump with both Usability Testing and a User Satisfaction survey. The study was conducted in consultation with Dr. Alan Shih and Marcus Dillavou from the School of Engineering who assisted with the development of the SSPT interface. Also consulting on the proposed project was Dr. Jacqueline Moss who has conducted previous medication administration simulation studies utilizing simulated system interfaces. 


It is estimated that adverse drug events resulting in injury or death affect more than 770,000 people annually. Simulating medical devices such as smart pumps allows the researcher to evaluate point-of-care devices and potentially error producing clinical situations without the risk of harming actual patients. Using a simulated environment to evaluate medical devices provides researchers with an understanding of how medical device design influences how nurses interact with and use devices like smart pumps.

Elias’ goal was to define a methodology for development of simulated medical device interface technology and then evaluating the simulated interface. Dr. Elias digitally videotaped and analyzed 3 levels of sessions (exploratory, novice programming, expert programming) of smart intravenous medication administration pump interface interactions. The analyses of these sessions led to the development of a Digital Video Finite State Machine (DVFSM), which incorporated aspects of the medication administration process and nursing workflow. The DVFSM provided the specifications for programming the simulated smart pump interface on a Netbook platform. Fourth year nursing student participants then programmed a simulated and actual smart medication infusion pump and completed a User Satisfaction survey. 

Preliminary findings have resulted in some “lessons-learned”; Elias has established a foundation for a methodology for developing clinically accurate simulated medical device interfaces, that reproduce the tactile, aural and visual experience of medical device interaction. Similarities between the simulator and actual pump indicate areas of high simulation fidelity, differences between the pump and simulator show where the simulator needs to be refined to increase fidelity. 

Currently, Dr. Elias is writing up a final summary of the project and a methodology paper from the project is currently under review. 

For more information, please contact Dr. Elias at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.