In a clinical environment, medical professionals use many types of equipment and medications. Staff are highly trained professionals and can encounter a vast range of incidents all in one shift.

From the routine tasks of monitoring vital signs and taking blood for testing to the emergencies of cardiac arrest or accident and ER trauma, they have received the training to cope.

Healthcare facilities invest heavily in the recruitment and training of these professionals so they can offer patients a high level of care. However, the tools they use must be appropriate for their purpose, and users must be able to update them to keep current technological advances. Owners must also invest in the best equipment to enable their staff to perform at their best.

Mobile crash carts, also known as mobile medical carts, are now a valued piece of equipment for many clinical settings. They have numerous features that can be used in various settings, providing not only the tools that medical staff may need but also versatility in what are often complex environments.

Range of Scenarios

One of the many benefits of a mobile medical cart is the range of situations staff can use them. A nurse on her daily ward round can take a cart along and have a laptop, equipment to take readings of vital signs, sharps to collect blood and gloves, and other hygiene accessories. The wagons carry a set of secure drawers so plenty of essential medical supplies can be stored and taken quickly around the ward.

Users can also accessorize their cart with emergency equipment, allowing them to reach patients quickly while also having the devices they may need in that particular scenario.

To fully appreciate the range of situations in which a physician or nurse can utilize a mobile medical cart, it is necessary to understand each feature and how they contribute to the healthcare setting.

Secure Storage

Drawers may seem to be not particularly complex or an essential aspect for a medical professional during their work. On closer inspection, they are vital for security, speed, and ease of access.

Users of a mobile medical cart can use the drawers to store medications, sharps, hygiene equipment, and any other items they need to take with them. As these items are essential and also potentially dangerous, the user needs to ensure they are secure. While lock and key drawers can keep articles safe, they can also be open to error, such as a key being lost or stolen.

A practical solution on a mobile cart is for the owner to choose biometric locking mechanisms with proximity sensors. The biometric system keeps the drawers securely locked. Should a user forget to close a drawer, or not close it correctly, the system ejects the drawer out to a noticeable degree. The user can then ensure they secure it correctly.

The biometric setup will only allow access to those possessing a keycard encrypted with the correct permissions. A nurse may have access to drawers containing sharps but is not authorized to remove medicines.

The proximity scanners detect when the relevant keycard is within a specified distance. The holder of the card may then access the drawer containing the applicable device or medication.

The biometric system provides an important safeguard, for patients and staff. Patients are unable to access medications or equipment, which could potentially cause harm. Physicians can also benefit from the advanced scanning systems located in the cart.

Should the physician remove a pharmaceutical, they can use the barcode wand located in the cart to scan the item. The barcode wand creates a record of the medication that the user removed, when they removed it, the physician that prescribed it, and the patient to whom they gave it.

Should confusion arise at a later date, the physician can look at the electronic record they created at the time of prescription. The audit trail is transparent and allows a regulator to see precisely how the situation occurred.

In primary care, medical staff have high standards of service. Patient care also involves providing an appropriate and professional level of treatment. Using a mobile medical cart, a professional can prescribe medicine, and then also give it to the patient at the point of care.

Patients do not have to go to a pharmacy to have their prescriptions filled, saving them time and effort. The ease of access allows the physician to know the patient is in receipt of the medication and can start the treatment immediately.

Patient Confidentiality

Administration of patient data is a vital subject for anyone who treats patients. HIPAA regulations are strict and provide a clear description of the duty of care healthcare facilities have to their patients.

An institution using a mobile medical cart can use it as a crucial part of their data protection strategy. A user on their way to treat a patient can take a portable unit with them. Rather than collecting a paper file from a filing cabinet and carrying it around on their rounds, they have all the patient information stored on the laptop.

At the point of care, they simply look up the patient’s file, and they can see all the previous notes. As computers are internet-enabled, the user can add the information in real-time.

A physician waiting on lab test results may find a colleague added the information while they are actually on their way to the patient. Not only is this a secure method of data storage, it is also quick and can help a physician to be more efficient.

When a physician is with a patient, having the most up-to-date information is crucial. However, when they are ready to add their notes, it is also vital that they are accurate and updated in real-time. Professionals can access important information such as whether their patient is taking medication, they may negatively react with a new prescription, or if they may have any allergic reactions.

A physician may once have added notes to a paper file, which was then put in a tray, and eventually added to the computer system when an administrative assistant was available to type in the notes. Not only was this inefficient, but it was potentially a data protection risk. Paper files could be read by anyone in the vicinity of the desk on which they were kept.

A physician who brings a mobile medical unit to the patient’s bedside has a much safer way of both accessing and saving notes to a patient’s file. Laptops can be password protected; only users authorized to access the data can see the information. A user should ensure the screen is only visible to themselves and the patient before opening a file.

As the mobile units can turn 360 degrees, this is easy to achieve. When the staff member opens the file, they can add their notes, check the information is correct, and then close it, confirming the password protection is in operation.

For transparency, laptops can record who accessed which file, and when they did it. During an audit, the healthcare facility can show that only authorized personnel accessed the data.

Not only is this a benefit to the institution, but they can explain their data protection procedures to prospective patients, engendering a feeling of trust event before the physician admits the patient.

Mobility and Versatility

Mobile medical carts are useful for many reasons, but the ability of a user to manoeuver them effortlessly around a facility is hugely advantageous. Medical professionals can use the ultra-smooth gliding casters to move the unit from patient to patient quickly.

When the physician has arrived at the point of care, the locking casters secure the cart in place. When it is time to move on, the user can smoothly release the locking mechanisms and continue on their rounds.

The mobility of a medical cart is only useful if the unit is ready to be of assistance when the medical staff reaches their destination. Medical professionals have different requirements depending on their specialty and the ward on which they are working. Users can accessorize their medical carts according to their specific needs.

A physician who specializes in heart conditions can equip a cart with the devices and medications they anticipate needing both on daily rounds and in emergencies.

An Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) trained professional will likely look to have an ACLS crash cart loaded with the medical devices most often used in American heart condition scenarios. Users can safely store emergency medications in the biometrically locked drawers for fast access.

Medical staff who have a cart ready and waiting for use can hope to improve response times for better patient outcomes. An ACLS training center can also benefit from having a mobile cart in their training programs. As the wagons are now in widespread use, any professional gaining their ACLS certification should receive training in the use of a mobile medical unit.

A cardiac unit is only one example of a ward where a mobile cart can contribute to patient care. Users can easily accessorize carts for use in most areas of a hospital from a neonatal unit to a geriatric ward to an operating room. Users can equip carts with an emergency supply of the most used medicines and even an oxygen tank.

Users of a mobile medical cart must be trained in their use and regularly ensure the cart is ready for operation. Carts do have safeguards such as biometric locks and proximity scanners; however, users must take responsibility for ensuring they monitor medicine expiration dates, and the stock levels of hygienic equipment are fully maintained.

Infection Control

Infection control is always an essential aspect of any healthcare institution. However, with the emergence of coronavirus, rarely have the importance of infection control procedures been highlighted to such an extent.

Mobile medical carts contribute to the safeguarding of both patients and staff in several ways. Infection transference is a risk that medical personnel can increase when they mix in communal areas. It may be when using computers in a central location, gathering at a nurse station, or going to an equipment store to collect medical supplies for the shift ahead.

A user can equip a mobile cart with a laptop to avoid the need to go back to a centrally located computer, keep all the necessary medical tools in the securely locked drawers, and have hygienic equipment stored in the attached baskets for ease of access.

As the user can go on their rounds without the need to interact unnecessarily with other members of staff who may have an infection, they can significantly reduce the risk of infection transference.

Facilities will have robust infection control procedures, and medical professionals who follow these instructions will lower the risk of passing on any contagions to colleagues and their patients.

Battery Life

For practical use, units must be in operation. Using the Scott-Clark Medical patented Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology (FMCPT), users can keep carts working for extended periods.

Our batteries can be charged on the unit, eliminating the need to plug the cart into a wall socket. Users can change hot-swap batteries in as little as 30 seconds; the user keeping the cart on the move throughout their shift.

Should there be a power interruption in a facility, the cart will not be affected; it will carry on working as the power system is independent of the main power supply.

Final Thoughts

Mobile crash carts are ideal in many scenarios and not just in medical emergencies. The versatility of the unit is an excellent advantage for many specialties in clinical settings.

The long battery life, easy recharging method, ability to accessorize with multiple intricate pieces of equipment, and the safety and security the cart can offer, make it an extremely valuable addition to any ward.

Steve is a former healthcare professional who writes about technological advancements in the industry, with a special interest in the geriatric demographic.
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