Outside of medical settings, procedure carts may be an unfamiliar concept. For those who work in medical settings, they are often essential. When properly designed, the procedure cart is a storage solution that provides the combination of adaptability, manoeuvrability and security needed in a variety of healthcare situations. It is important to get it right.
Important features of a procedure cart:
One of the best things about procedure carts in general is that they can be adapted to different settings. For example, most have drawers of different sizes that can be reconfigured as needed. Color coding can be used to make the purpose of each cart and drawer readily apparent. Pull-out surfaces can expand your working area. Add-ons may include rails or bins for extra storage.
Along with color coding, other ways to organize your cart could include labels and dividers. These may be included with your cart, and you should always consider possible add-ons as well as the cart itself. Other carts have transparent compartments so you can instantly view the contents without needing to open the drawer.
Your procedure cart could be facing some challenging times in an unpredictable, fast-moving medical environment. It needs to be resilient, able to stand up to all kinds of bangs and scrapes. This also links to security, as a more durable cart will be harder to break into if someone wants to steal from it.
Procedure carts need to be able to move around their settings with ease, even when there is only one person to steer. This includes maneuvering around beds, chairs, people and any other equipment. There may be narrow corridors or awkward corners to navigate. That means the cart needs to be as lightweight as possible, with swiveling castors that can be locked in place when necessary to prevent it rolling away at the wrong time. There should be low resistance when rolling over any type of surface, but it should also have a reasonable grip to prevent slipping and sliding. Handles can make steering easier. Height, as well as weight, should be considered as a factor when assessing the utility and maneuverability of a cart.
If you are storing medical supplies (potentially including medications, syringes and other sharp objects) then you need to ensure that only the appropriate professionals can access them. The best procedure carts will have security features to ensure that the contents can be kept safe even in a busy medical setting with lots of people in constant movement. Common security features include locking drawers, which may be unlocked with a physical key, proximity card, electronic keypad or a combination of different locks – depending upon your preference. There may be an option to allow dual credential unlocking. Seals on drawers are important not just to prevent theft but to preserve supplies in a sterile environment. Tamper-evident seals can quickly reveal if drawers have been breached.
Hygiene and infection control
Clearly, cleanliness is vital in any medical setting. Removable drawers and panels allow for more thorough cleaning of every part of the cart. Making as many surfaces accessible as possible ensures the most effective cleansing procedures. Maximizing any antimicrobial properties in the materials used and making procedure carts easy to wash can reduce the risk of transmitting germs and infections, keeping both healthcare workers and their patients safe. Some carts may even be used to store personal protective equipment to improve infection control still further.
There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing procedure carts. They can only work effectively when they have the right combination of features to allow you to adapt them to the rapidly changing needs of your medical environment, with the kind of durability and security features that protect both them and you. And it’s worth remembering to consider the potential of any add-ons as well as the cart itself.