I used to teach various infusion pumps and PCA/epidural pumps for B Braun. The little Curlin pump is one of the best, if not the best, out there, and it is very, very easy to program and very user friendly. In fact, you can program it like any other PCA, and let the PATIENT dose herself according to whatever the lockout intervals are--patient controlled epidural anesthesia is a great hospital marketing device to ensure patients that they will have some control over their labor. You can turn off the pump after delivery and leave the epidural catheter & tubing in place, just putting a stopcock cover over the end of the tubing that you have disconnected, if you want to use it later (say, the next day) for a post-partum tubal ligation.
Making a mistake in programming the Curlin is difficult to do, because there are all kinds of "bells & whistles" and visual prompts that, in essence, warn you that you are about to make a mistake--essentially it asks, several times, if you are SURE you want to do what you are attempting to do.
I taught both anesthesia and the OB RNs in many facilities nationwide to program and dose them. Some OB RNs felt it was anesthesia's job and that they weren't being paid enough to take on that responsibility, even if there was no clear cut policy prohibiting them from doing it. I can't say I blame them--I feel the same way about doing conscious sedation in the O.R.--why should I take on that responsibility on an R.N.'s pay just so that an extra room can be opened to rush cases along? Let them wait for anesthesia! In fact, isn't anesthesia required to be in house at all times in hospitals that have OB units--or does that vary? I did teach in a very rural hospital where they had to send a policeman out to roust a CRNA out of bed at his home---he claimed he never heard his phone or his beeper-- and the laboring OB patient never did get her epidural--by the time he got there, it was way too late to put it in--so the little pump that I had taught both him and the nurses to use went unused, and the patient and her husband were justifiably upset.