Tailoring a medical cart so that it effectively serves the function the staff needs to care for its patients can be a complex endeavor. It's important to know what accessories medical cart manufacturers have designed and produced to help medical staff.
Benefits of a Cart System
- Prevent the spread of infection
- Reduce the time it takes for caregivers to deliver proper care to a patient, or a series of patients, by adding a mobile component to storage and healthcare
- Store and organize medical supplies such as minor procedure kits, Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI) Prevention Kits, or Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP) Prevention Kits
Side-Mounted Cart AccessoriesCart accessories can be mounted on the top of the cart, the sides, and the back, as well as in the interior of the cart case itself.
HandlesVarious manufacturers have developed different ways for providing an easy, comfortable method for staff to maneuver carts through outpatient clinics and hospital hallways. In some cases, dual push handles can be specified. They have a built-in molded plastic hand grip, and they are secured to the side of the cart at the top. Some carts may offer a straight, horizontal push bar. Other carts have no handle of any kind, but they are easy to maneuver simply by holding the soft, molded, rounded corners at the top of the cart.
WorksurfacesAdditional worksurfaces near the top of the cart can be specified to extend out to either side of a medical cart. It's important to understand how the cart will be used, as well as what other side-mounted accessories will be required before specifying the side worksurface. There could be physical conflict between the worksurface and the other accessories, rendering one of them useless.
Some carts allow for an additional worksurface to be stored tucked under the top of the cart. The worksurface can be pulled out to its full extension with two fingers. You'll want to consider closely how well you'll be able to keep this clean. I'm not advising against it, merely suggesting you take a close look and ensure you have a solid infection prevention and cleaning plan in place for the crevices that may be involved.
Another way to use an additional worksurface on a cart is to have it side-mounted, and stored folded down along the side of the cart body. The worksurface flips up when needed, and the user can set a built-in cantilever in place to support the tray in its extended position.
Carts Where You May Want An Additional Worksurface or Two
- Cast Cart
- Emergency Cart
- Pediatric and Pediatric Emergency Carts
- Anesthesia Cart
- Airway Cart
- I.V. Therapy Cart
Other Side-Mounted AccessoriesFurther customize your cart for the supplies it will be intended to store and transport by considering the following side-mounted tools:
- Utility basket (usually made of wire, but may be offered in steel, or plastic)
- Chart Holder
- Notebook or clipboard Holder
- Trash basket
- Glove Box Holders
- Cast Bucket Holder and Towel Bar for Cast Carts
- Sharps Container Holder
- Oxygen Tank Holder
- Cardiac Board (usually mounted on the back exterior of the cart body)
- Utility Hooks
- Scope Holders (tall cabinet that attaches to the side of the cart; intended for holding two or four scopes typically; enclosed by a door)
- Vertical, side-mounted, catheter holder bin
- Hospital-grade outlet strip and cord wrap
- Fluid Tray bins
Portions of the cart may be treated with antimicrobial properties. Look for this possibility when researching your cart specification and purchase.
All of these accessories will mount in different ways, depending on the manufacturer's system. Sometimes, accessories are screwed into the side of the cart body. This is sometimes necessary, but it is not preferable because it creates more crevices for dirt, bacteria, and germs to hide, live, and travel.
There are a few other options for side-mounting brackets. Equipment rail offers the most infection prevention-friendly tool for mounting accessories. Equipment rail can be cleaned easily and has the fewest crevices. It also allows for easy and quick adjustment of accessory locations. And in the case of a necessary terminal clean, the accessories can be removed, including the brackets, and cleaned down to the smallest parts. Some manufacturers offer an accessory panel, which is a flat surface rack that has several divots in it for the accessories to connect into. While it is commendable for its modularity, the multiple divots create more small hiding places for infection-causing germs to breed.
Carts can be equipped with many useful tools to tailor their function. Get acquainted with the manufacturer options that are available, and continue to emerge. Specifying a medical cart that is mobile, prevents the spread of infection, is modular and adaptable, and stores the supplies necessary for staff to perform recommended guidelines for evidence-based medicine, will improve patient care. That is always the goal that medical supplies and equipment must serve.