Objective. Our objective was to design, construct, and assess an automated system to perform standardized evaluation of patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) devices. Methods. We developed a computer-controlled test station. The computer activates the PCA device under test through a purpose-built serial interface device. The dose delivered is weighed on an electronic balance; then, at a predetermined interval, the computer interrogates the balance via the serial interface device to determine the weight gain. A robotic digit simulates patient button presses for four commonly used demand mechanisms. Software programs were written to test three types of patient-demand profile. Results. The automated system is sufficiently accurate for evaluating PCA devices and has been successfully used to perform and evaluate several thousand demands on six different models of PCA device. Conclusions. The test station has proved to be simple to use and extremely reliable, and has enabled the successful evaluation of several types of PCA device.
- Equipment: Patient-controlled analgesia devices