Keeping your staff mobile in a busy hospital or clinic requires close attention to all aspects of each medical cart. Although it’s easy to assume that any cart is better than a wall-mounted cabinet or computer, carts that are poorly designed or have low-quality batteries can be a hindrance to staff.
You need procedure carts, emergency crash carts, and workstations on wheels with quality engineering and reliable power systems. Standards for patient care in modern healthcare environments strongly emphasize technology and electronic records, so any interruption to computing workstation access can have wide-ranging effects on your whole operation. Even patient outcomes may hinge on your mobile workstations, especially in emergency rooms and ICUs.
Battery technology has improved substantially in recent years, with older lead-acid batteries often replaced by lithium-ion batteries in medical computers. In addition to going longer on a single charge, lithium-ion batteries don’t lose their power capacity as quickly as lead-acid batteries. Plus, lithium-ion batteries are lower in weight, making them easier for staff to move and replace.
Point of care computers are the backbone of medical facilities, and since they’re used so frequently, their power supply must be reliable. Nurses and other staff don’t have time to be hunting around for a power outlet or changing batteries multiple times in one shift.
The battery needs increase further when the cart also has electronic peripherals like label printers and scanners in addition to a computer. This means that every cart’s battery needs are slightly different, which makes it hard for lead-acid batteries to be a one-size-fits-all solution to your healthcare facility. Retrofitting all your carts with lithium-ion batteries is the minimum step to take to ensure your fleet’s long-term reliability.
When a lithium-ion battery does need changing mid-shift due to a nurse working overtime, traditional systems require the mobile cart to be shut down before the battery can be replaced. New hot-swap battery systems allow a new battery to be inserted before the old one is removed, eliminating the power interruption that can disrupt a staff member’s workflow.
Strong Frames and Wheels
Mobile medical carts are typically made of stainless steel, aluminum, plastic, or a combination of all three. Although there are pros and cons to each material, one of the key aspects of cart design is its strength.
Aluminum is lightweight but not strong enough to hold up to years of wear and tear in a busy hospital. However, every single surface of the cart doesn’t need to be made of stainless steel. A reliable cart should use steel on high-stress parts of the cart while using aluminum or durable chip-resistant plastic for other parts.
The quality of the wheels is also important. Treatment carts and isolation carts have to move quickly between patients, especially in busy trauma wards where space and supplies are limited. Wheels need to turn smoothly, move over bumps and uneven tiles, and lock into place for safety. Carts transporting electronics, including onboard computers and vital reading equipment, need conductive casters that prevent static buildup from interfering with device readings and operation. Conductive casters return the static charge back into the floor, eliminating a short circuit or overload risk.
Another aspect of the carts’ physical performance that is often overlooked is ergonomics. For staff to find the carts worthwhile, carts need to have good height adjustment for comfortable use that doesn’t strain the user’s neck and shoulders. Carts with strong frames can support both the battery and an electric height adjustment system that makes changes easy.
Safe and Accurate Medication Management
Medication carts come in a variety of styles with different security levels. Fully unlocked carts are rare, and most at least lock with a key. However, scannable ID cards or password-protected systems that log each user’s actions are becoming increasingly common due to the epidemic of opioid theft and abuse.
When medication goes missing or isn’t available in the quantities needed, nurse workflows can be disrupted. Because of this, cart security is a critical aspect of cart reliability during each shift. Although wall cabinets offer great security, it’s a huge hassle for nurses to get medication from them whenever needed.
IV therapy, in particular, requires a careful eye since many of the liquid medications look the same at first glance. Using digital systems to track and dispense medication improves the reliability and efficiency of medical staff. Since the most accurate systems rely on computers, you need carts with batteries and frames to fully support each system.
Carts for Your Healthcare Team
When equipment affects the difficulty of each team member’s job, team morale will inevitably be tied to the quality of that equipment. You can invest in your team’s ability to serve patients better by ensuring your mobile computing carts, crash carts, medication carts, and other essential medical carts are the best quality possible.
Scott-Clark Medical specializes in medical carts for a variety of facility types and specializations. We understand what equipment medical staff need to do their jobs well, and we never cut corners in the quality of our carts’ construction.
We can create a fully customized fleet of carts with peripherals for each ward or even individual staff members. Contact us today at (512) 756-7300 to learn more or to request a quote.