Casters provide your medical cart with the maneuverability you need for transporting critical medical supplies and technology in the fast-paced and stressful environment of a modern hospital or medical facility. However, medical carts, especially those carrying electrical and electronic equipment such as defibrillators and heart monitors, are vulnerable to electrostatic discharge (ESD). One way to remedy this is to use conductive casters.
What is Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)?
Electrostatic discharge is the sudden flow of electric current between two objects, which can cause a static shock. Aside from causing a mild static shock, ESD can cause other problems.
In an environment where medical staff must use computers and other electronic devices extensively to update patient information to manage medical emergencies, controlling electrostatic discharge is crucial. ESD can damage electronics in two ways:
The first type of damage is hidden. Internal electronic components may suffer minor damage without a noticeable drop in performance. However, this can be cumulative over time.
The second type is where an electrostatic discharge permanently destroys or shuts down an electronic device, requiring repair or replacement.
What are Casters?
When purchasing medical equipment such as medication carts and mobile workstations, ease of maneuverability is essential. Space is often limited in modern medical facilities, and the circumstances and shift patterns of hospitals are continually changing. As a result, you need to move medical supplies, including lifesaving drugs, and technology quickly from one location to another according to demand.
A caster is a type of wheel attached by a metal fork — a U-shaped piece of sheet metal that often rotates on a swivel joint. These are used on everything from desks and shelving units to shopping carts. Sometimes you can lock one or both sets to immobilize the cart. This can be necessary for medical staff and patients’ safety, providing you with rigidity when you need it.
Smooth-ride casters are beneficial for several reasons. Rubber, nylon, or phenolic wheels also provide floor protection — they won’t mark or damage the surfaces they roll over. The ability of casters to rotate is often a requirement when moving carts through tight corridors and door frames because you may have to make sharp turns.
What are Conductive Casters?
When casters roll along the floor of a hospital, they collect static electricity. Conductive casters can transmit static electricity, which may build up in the cart or related equipment, to the floor.
Why are Conductive Casters Important?
Crash and other types of medical carts contain lifesaving electronic equipment, so it’s vital that you use conductive casters. These wheels collect and disperse static electricity, preventing it from affecting the delicate electronics in computer systems and other onboard equipment.
This can be an important safety mechanism because a static charge can interfere with or permanently damage critical electronics equipment such as vital signs monitors, IV pumps, heart monitors, and defibrillators. Many carts are also equipped with their own power supply system, which can also get damaged by a static charge.
When staff need your cart’s supplies or technology to manage emergency medical conditions, such as cardiac arrest, you can’t afford for these instruments to be nonfunctional.
High-quality conductive casters need to be cleaned periodically, just like the rest of the cart. Aside from maintaining necessary hygiene standards, the accumulation of floor wax and other dirt or debris can interfere with the wheels’ anti-ESD properties.
Other Ways to Minimize ESD
Preventing the buildup of electrostatic charges in electronic equipment isn’t limited to the use of conductive casters. This is one of several tools at your disposal. Other static control measures include:
- Keeping synthetic materials away from electronics. This includes styrofoam coffee cups.
- Humidification, especially of sensitive areas.
- Anti-static wrist straps that connect to a grounding system.
- Anti-static cleaning products. This is especially important when cleaning electronic equipment. Using compressed air to clean computer keyboards can exacerbate the presence of static electricity.
Custom Medical Cart Requirements
If you determine that you need a custom medical cart, discuss essential static-control measures, such as conductive casters, with the supplier. This simple addition to your cart can mean the difference between vital technology continuing to perform as needed and failure when seconds count.
At Scott-Clark Medical, we’re always striving to incorporate cutting-edge technology and custom solutions to ensure that your medical equipment outperforms your expectations. This is critical for keeping you, your staff, and your patients safe and your supplies organized. Give us a call at (512) 756-7300, and we’ll help you find the perfect option to meet your unique circumstances.