The influential Canadian-born physician Sir William Osler (1849–1918) understood the importance of “bedside manner.” Osler, who as a founding physician of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital introduced bedside clinical training for medical students, knew that the best doctors excel at both the clinical and the humane sides of their profession. In his words, “The practice of medicine is an art, based on science.”
While much has changed since the days of Sir William Osler, the fundamental human need for clinically sound, compassionate healthcare remains a constant. And today’s clinicians have access to a continuously growing arsenal of tools that help them be at their best for their patients. Among those essential tools are bedside carts, also known as point-of-care carts.
Bedside carts come in a variety of designs, functionalities and sizes to meet the full range of clinical needs across hospitals, surgery centers and clinics. The “right one for the job” depends on the setting and the need, but it should facilitate the timely, effective and efficient delivery of healthcare services. With that in mind, here are eight characteristics to look for in a bedside cart.
1 | Mobility
The point of a cart is its ability to be moved quickly from one location to another, enabling doctors and nurses to carry with them the equipment or medications they need to care for a given patient. Ease of transport is essential, and features such as premium wheels and casters for braking, tracking and swiveling make this possible.
2 | Functionality
Where will the cart be used? What types of doctors or other clinicians will be using it, and for what kinds of care? Does the cart need to be able to house a computer? In some cases, versatility might be an asset, while other circumstances call for more specialized applications. Departmental leaders should have a fairly clear idea of their greatest needs and what functions might make the most sense for their bedside carts to fill.
Buying “off the rack” isn’t always a good idea, and it isn’t necessary when many carts can be configured to meet a department’s specific needs. Custom features include size and number of drawers, lock type, color and accessories. Accessories can include IV poles, sharps container holders, defibrillator shelves, cardiac boards, oxygen tank holders, catheter holders, glove dispensers and waste containers.
The clinicians who will be using the cart should be able to gain access to it and its contents—including information—with as little friction and frustration as possible. Those who won’t, on the other hand, should be deterred from unauthorized access.
Simply put: Does it enable clinicians to do their jobs effectively without wasting valuable time? Having the necessary medical equipment, technologies, medications, supplies, information and electrical power readily available in one portable unit cuts down on extra trips across the department or hospital.
6| Safety and security
Protecting patients (and their personal information) and limiting risk are essential to the healthcare mission. Depending on your specific needs, choose from pushbutton, key or radio frequency identification (RFID) locks. Some bedside carts are equipped with multiple alarms, which can be transmitted as both audible alert and email/text notifications.
A busy bedside cart racks up a lot of miles and should be built to go the distance. That means sturdy construction and stability; some carts have built-in stabilizer systems to prevent tipping.
Carts should be easy to access, store, clean and disinfect. They shouldn’t take up more space than they have to, and they should make clinicians’ jobs easier—not give them something else to worry about.
Possession of the right tools, including carts, will enhance the ability of your clinicians to deliver outstanding healthcare while exhibiting an empathetic bedside manner. At Storage Systems Unlimited, we offer a wide array of bedside carts from manufacturers including Waterloo, InterMetro, TouchPoint Medical, Capsa Healthcare and Detecto.
Need more guidance on selecting the right bedside carts for your hospital or department? We are happy to help you assess your needs and answer your questions. Storage Systems Unlimited provides bedside carts and storage-related products for every department with a choice of multiple manufacturers. We also offer preferred pricing, planning, design, installation and project management for healthcare organization and storage systems. Contact us at 1-888-614-0004 or visit storagesystemsul.com to learn more or request a quote.