You may already know that crash carts are a type of medical cart used by health care facilities in case of a patient emergency, such as a Code Blue. You may also know that they contain a wide array of valuable equipment and supplies to deal with these emergencies.
But do you know what exactly goes into a crash cart? Did you know there are different types of crash carts for various emergencies, each with its own unique sets of emergency equipment and medications?
Learn about the essentials for your facility’s crash carts and how to organize them efficiently, allowing your personnel to be ready for any type of patient emergency.
Top Priority Equipment
The term “top priority” refers to critical life-saving equipment that your personnel is likely to use first, requiring they have immediate and obstructed access to it.
This equipment should be part of every crash cart checklist, regardless of the facility (hospitals, intensive care, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, etc.). All equipment on your list should be used by ACLS-trained staff members, preferably with an AHA ACLS certification.
Cardiac monitor and portable defibrillator
One of the most critical things nurses must know when responding to an emergency code is the patient’s cardiac and respiratory status. Having a heart rate monitor and a defibrillator at the ready allows your personnel to respond to a life-threatening heart rhythm (e.g., arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, etc.) as quickly and effectively as possible, even when away from the bedroom or outside the facility.
Studies demonstrated the effectiveness of widespread, publicly accessible defibrillators, indicating they increase the chances of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).
Portable suction machine
A portable suction machine (also known as an aspirator) is necessary if the emergency occurs outside of a patient’s room or if the in-wall suction is unavailable for any reason.
The function of this machine is to clear the patient’s airways of foreign objects or bodily fluids (e.g., blood, vomit, mucus, etc.) or to prepare them for intubation.
When not in use, portable suction aspirators should remain fully charged, and all tubing needs regular cleaning and disinfecting to ensure readiness and adherence to infection control procedures.
Airway equipment should be a part of every crash cart’s required items checklist. Your cart should carry the following:
- Oxygen and bag-valve masks
- Nasal cannulas
- Intubation equipment, including endotracheal tubes of various sizes, laryngoscopes, catheters, stylets, and carbon dioxide detectors
- Magill forceps
- Oxygen tank
Proper organization and management of your crash cart drawers are critical to ensure that your personnel can find the emergency medications and equipment they need promptly. The contents of each drawer vary depending on the type of caregiving facility and emergency department. For instance, the medication found in an adult crash cart is not the same as that found in a pediatric crash cart.
Reserve two different drawers for your IV equipment. The first IV drawer should contain IV starting and blood drawing equipment, such as:
- Alcohol wipes
- Angiocaths of various sizes
- Collection tubes
The second IV drawer should contain tubing and fluids, including:
- Dextrose solution (50% for adults, 25% for pediatrics)
- Sodium chloride
- Normal and half-normal saline solutions
- Lactated Ringers
- Extension tubing
Your crash cart’s selection of medications may vary depending on your healthcare facility’s type. A typical crash cart medication checklist contains the following:
- Epinephrine (0.3 mg for adults, 0.15 mg for pediatrics)
- Atropine sulfate
- Naloxone (for coding patients following a drug overdose)
- Nitroglycerin spray
- Sterile water for injections in various sizes (10 ml, 20 ml, 50 ml)
Typically, the bottom drawer of the cart contains miscellaneous and extra equipment that doesn’t fit in any other categories, such as procedure trays. The contents of this drawer vary between facilities.
Your crash cart’s miscellaneous equipment selection may include any of the following:
- Central line dressing trays
- Eye trays
- Foley trays
- Line insertion trays
- Minor and significant extremity packs
- Suture removal
- Tracheostomy trays
- UGPIV kits
- Urine meter trays
Crash Cart Care and Maintenance
One of the nightmare scenarios for healthcare personnel in need of a crash cart is to find unusable equipment or expired medication. It is vital to prevent these situations with a regular, thorough maintenance routine.
- Check the expiration dates on your medication and your defib pads monthly. Remove and replace expired meds and defib pads from the crash cart during the monthly checkup.
- Safely dispose of all expired medication, ensuring they are not rotated back into the hospital’s inventory.
- Keep all equipment that requires power (defibrillator, monitor, etc.) fully charged.
Quality Equipment is at the Core of Quality Healthcare
Scott-Clark Medical’s mission is to provide healthcare facilities and professionals with the most reliable and dependable medical carts on the market.
We offer standardized point-of-care mobile carts, retrofitted products, and fully custom solutions, catering to facilities of all sizes, budgets, and needs. All our products are also compatible with our state-of-the-art, hot-swappable power technology, allowing you to keep your equipment running for a complete shift.
Contact us today at (512) 756-7300 for any requests regarding our mobile carts or our power system.