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Mobility Considerations for Medical Carts 

May 9, 2018
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By cartadvocate Guest Blogger, David R. Baughn – Magnus Mobility Systems, Inc.

Carts that are used in Medical application have unique, mission-critical mobility requirements. After all, if they weren’t mobile, they’d just be cabinets, storage bins or computer desks, right? But these are carts, which by definition have wheels. Transporting instruments, medication or computers used in healthcare present challenges for these wheels not found in other applications. Fast, efficient movement, with easy positioning, along with stability when the cart is stationary are required. Proper caster specification, based on how a specific cart will be used, will assure that these objectives are met.

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When mobility is critical, quality casters are a must

Casters for use in healthcare are special, engineered products designed to address specific mobility requirements. For example, when a cart is used primarily in one area, such as in the O.R., and must be highly mobile and easily positioned in a small area, twin-wheel casters make the unit much easier to move in any direction desired, due to the differential action of the (two) wheels on each caster. One wheel rolls forward while the other rolls backward during swiveling, reducing friction against the floor, and allowing the cart to move easily in any direction required. These twin-wheel casters can also be specified with a total-locking brake, which locks the wheels and the swivel simultaneously, providing superior stability when the cart must be stationary. The O.R. also presents challenges to mobile equipment due to cables, tubes and wires that are often on the floor. Casters designed for use in this environment can offer options such as stationary or rotating cable pushers to prevent the casters from getting trapped, which can result in a cart tipping over.

Special casters for special applications
Carts that are moved over long distances have different mobility requirements. Some carts may use rigid, or fixed casters that don’t swivel at one end of the cart, which will provide easier rolling in a straight line, similar to a shopping cart. This solution has a disadvantage when the cart needs to be positioned, as it must be “parallel parked”, much like a car. Medical casters offer the option of a directional or steering lock, which aligns the caster in the direction of travel, and prevents it from swiveling, making it easier to push the cart straight. When the cart needs to be maneuvered in tighter quarters, or accurately positioned, the directional lock is released, allowing the caster to swivel in any direction. These directional locking casters can be combined with total locking casters to immobilize the cart as required. Some manufacturers even offer a swivel caster with both directional locking and total locking functions built into the same caster.

Safety! For your patients and sensitive equipment

Some carts need to be electrically grounded, such as when they are transporting sensitive electronic equipment that might be damaged by ESD (electrostatic discharge). Medical casters can be specified in conductive configuration to achieve this, providing electrical continuity to the floor, through the caster.

Another application that requires a special caster is when a mobile device is used in MRI. Casters, along with other components in the cart must be non-magnetic. This is achieved through the use of materials such as nylon (PA6), Stainless Steel and brass. As safety is a primary concern, any caster used in MRI application should be checked for acceptability for the area in which it will be used.

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Let’s keep it clean!

Strict cleaning protocols in healthcare facilities can cause problems for casters not designed for use in those environments. The use of corrosion resistant materials such as injection molded nylon which can be cleaned without fear of rusting, keeps carts rolling longer. Nylon is strong, resilient, and transmits less noise than a comparable steel caster. Most medical casters also use threadguards, or wheel covers, to prevent sutures, hair, and other foreign material from wrapping around the axle and jamming the wheel.

Casters make your cart move- Make sure you’ve got the right casters based on the way your carts will be used and need to perform.


Many thanks to Dave and Magnus for sharing their medical cart caster expertise on cartadvocate.

For Your Medical Cart Solutions,


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