Medical workstations on wheels have helped dramatically to improve patient care over the last few decades. Carts today have become an essential item in every healthcare facility’s toolbox. All medical specialties, including pediatric emergency rooms, have benefited.

Specialization and customization of carts related to patient subgroups, such as pediatrics, help nurses and doctors react quicker to emergency care needs.

What Is an Emergency Cart?

Emergency or crash carts are prepositioned and pre-stocked for emergency room staff to use to deal with trauma and stabilize a patient.

The cart equipment has everything needed to treat patients during approximately the first 30 minutes of emergency care.

Many emergency rooms keep more than one cart available. For example, you may have a cart stocked with appropriate equipment for cardiac emergencies, a cart stocked for general emergencies, and a cart properly equipped for pediatric emergencies.

What Facilities Use Emergency Carts?

Any healthcare clinic should consider having a crash cart available. Pediatric hospitals, nursing homes, cardiac facilities, and even doctor’s offices should consider having an emergency cart available.

Medical Carts with Computers

One of the carts for emergencies may be a COW or Computer on Wheels. Computers on carts allow instantaneous access to a patient’s records, if available, or allows the doctors and nurses to enter and save patient vitals and information without resorting to pen and paper or memory for later record inclusion.

Computer carts may also have power systems to allow the cart to power any transportable equipment right to where the patient receives the emergency care.

Basic Pediatric Equipment

Pediatric emergency carts contain many items in common with other crash carts. The carts need IV tubing and fluid, basic airway equipment, oxygen, needles, and basic medications.

Most clinics and emergency rooms include a defibrillator which sits on top of the cart for easy access.

Pediatric Cart Customization

Most manufacturers will have basic pediatric carts as part of the company’s line of cart offerings. As with any cart, however, you can customize a pediatric cart to meet clinic specifications. You may, for example, want a cart specifically for emergency pediatric cardiology.

Customization can also address staff preferences. Medical cart companies can add an IV pole, color-coded medication drawers based on size and weight of the patient, integrated scales, and more.

Basic Format

Pediatric carts generally have the top of the cart prepped for laying the patient down. There will be five or six clearly labeled drawers. The medication drawers may have biometric or RFID locks that provide a record of who unlocked the drawer, what medications were withdrawn, and when the drawer was unlocked.

Sometimes you may want pediatric carts with power to avoid moving the cart closer to a wall plug in or using extension cords.

Used and Refurbished Carts

Used carts sold by cart companies often provide the same level of quality as new carts but at a much lower cost. Hospitals can also save by refurbishing existing carts to meet changing needs.

For example, if you have a computer cart, you no longer need but need a pediatric cart, cart companies like Scott-Clark Medical offer refurbishing services. You can even have refurbishing done onsite instead of the extra time it takes to package, ship, and have the cart returned.

Cart Maintenance

Hospitals should have in place and enforce cart maintenance policies. This is especially critical for carts used in emergency rooms.

At the beginning of each shift, someone must check the carts and ensure they have been restocked with any supplies used during the previous eight hours. All medication expiration dates must be inspected at the beginning of each month and replaced as required. A designated shift member must also check the defibrillator’s expiration date.

Cart batteries should be replaced each shift with fresh, 100% charged ones and the used ones placed in the charging station for the next shift.

Emma Reed has a background in Psychology (B.A.) and Medical Anthropology (M.S.) and writes for a variety of medical publications. Her passion is making cutting-edge medical information accessible to a wider audience, and her work often examines the intersections of sociology, anthropology, and medicine.
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