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medical cart casters, mobility, and maneuverability – post #005

May 17, 2012

At 30,000 feet somewhere over West Texas I am contemplating the importance of medical cart casters. After all, by definition a cart must have wheels to be a cart. No matter how great the cart, if it has poor mobility its overall user experience is significantly diminished.

From a macro point of view, many cart aspects are crucial to the overall cart experience. Some of these would be:

A. Ease and speed of accessing and securing the cart

B. Intuitive & Friendly Programming

C. Modularity for drawer/bin configuration options

D. Accessory Friendly

E. Maneuverability

F. Ergonomic

G. Mobile

H. Aesthetically pleasing

The more a cart possesses the above benefits, the better the overall “Cart Experience” will be for the healthcare professional. However for the mobile medical cart solution with a PATH OF TRAVEL, E and G are paramount. First let’s look at E; Maneuverability.

The cart’s casters are a key component of its maneuverability. A cart that utilizes high quality casters and is lightweight will have optimum maneuverability. Most medical cart casters have industrial strength, non-conducive casters that are designed for universal use on the most common flooring surfaces. These include hardwood, carpet, linoleum, and tile. Combined with a lightweight cart (cart + contents), adequate size casters will allow you to turn the cart around quickly to face another patient, or simply to re-direct its primary direction.

The cart’s casters are also a key component to its Mobility. Steering clear of angular momentum and other physics discussions, it is my understanding that larger casters enable the cart to be rolled easier, while smaller casters enable the cart to begin it’s initial movement easier. Five inch (5″) diameter casters are a medical cart industry standard, and found to be optimal for standard medical carts. You can readily understand that different cart sizes have varying caster sizes. Smaller carts (i.e. bedside, RN-server) have 2 or 3″ and larger storage carts (i.e. long term care, transfer) have 6″.

Of the cart’s four (4) casters, one (1) should be what’s called a tracking caster, and one (1) should be a breaking caster. The tracking caster will lock in a single direction, allowing you to push the cart easily in a straight path. That benefit is necessary for the carts single direction and rapid mobility in the case of an urgent code blue response. The breaking caster of course limits the carts mobility, ensuring it doesn’t move when you are simply opening and closing drawers.

With the carts casters being crucial to two of the eight key elements of a cart’s “Overall Experience”, I believe I have merely scratched the surface on medical cart casters. Look for a more in depth article, where I will discuss caster types, specifications, and optimal applications.

From my window seat beyond the Southwest wingtips, are the fog covered lights of Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area. As I am looking down through the dense fog and trying to make out familiar sites, I think about the thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands of cart casters right below me in use. The cabin is near dark but we are nearing our “On Approach” to land. As a compliant passenger…I must now turn off my electronic device!

For your medical cart solutions,

-Your Trusted Cart Advocate / tagg neal

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