Continuous rate infusion (CRI) is a procedure in which a medication or fluid is given intravenously at a constant, predetermined rate. A CRI pump is programmed to deliver the medication or fluid at a set rate. These rates can be very slow—several milliliters over an entire day—or very rapidly at several liters during a few hours. CRI pumps are “intelligent,” and notify the ICU technician if the infusion is complete or if the infusion is unable to be delivered. For example, if there is a problem with the patient’s intravenous (IV) catheter or if the infusion line is kinked, the pump will alert technicians.
CRIs are very useful when delivering a low, constant infusion of pain relieving medication.
Patients that have pancreatitis, traumatic injuries or have recently had surgery benefit from CRIs of pain medications. Diabetic patients who have become unregulated also benefit from having a CRI of insulin while in the hospital. At Savannah Veterinary Internal Medicine & Intensive Care, CRIs are commonplace and the vast majority of our patients have a CRI pump delivering some form of medication.