Medical crash cart is an important piece of equipment in every medical center or hospital. It is designed to always be on the ready for the situations that require quick action, such as restore consciousness, or to restore living signs in patients. Examples of such situations will be a heart arrest, breathing cessation, or drug overdose.
To be quickly accessible, crash carts are always positioned near emergency rooms (ER), operating rooms, intensive care units (ICU), or recovery rooms.
Crash carts always feature at least five sturdy drawers for medications, suction devices, scalpels, needles, air supply tubes, a working surface with heart monitors and AEDs, or automatic electronic defibrillators, as well as space where oxygen containers are securely attached.
Nurses and doctors that are first in line to provide life support and resuscitation, need to always be clearly aware of the placement of the medical crash cart as well as of its contents and their use, down to the contents of each individual drawer.
We will provide here a quick checklist of crash cart supplies. The list is intended as an overview only, it is not complete, and can be different in different hospitals or ERs. If you are studying for an ACLU exam or similar, you should look into the literature given to you for more details on basic life support, and details of conditions that require quick recongition of the need to use a crash cart and the resuscitation procedures.
Top surface of the hospital crash cart: This is commonly reserved for the heart monitoring device and AED, automatic electronic defibrillator, to be used in heart arrest situations.
Crash cart medication list for adults includes: Adenosine, Amiodarone, Atropine, Calcium Chloride, Dextrose, Dobutamine, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Etomidate, Flumazenil, Lidocaine, Magnesium Sulfate, Naloxone, Nitroglycerin, Norepinephrine, Procainamide, Vasopressin, Verapamil, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Chloride. (Note: crash cart drugs for children should be different, see below.)
Breathing equipment and air supplies: Tracheal (windpipe) tubes such as endotracheal tubes, tracheostomy tubes, nasal tube or nasal cannula, oxygen flow meter, laryngoscope (throat viewer) supplies such as light bulbs, batteries, exam gloves, and suction devices such as suction cathethers.
Intra venous (IV) equipment supplies: Blood tubes, sterile water vials, alcohol swabs, tape, IV start kits, syringes, arterial blood gas (ABG) kits and syringes, IV solutions such as lactated ringers, normal saline, and IV tubes like macrodrip, extension tubing.
Heart and chest procedures: In addition to the heart monitor and AED machine that are normally positioned on top of the medical crash cart, one of the drawers will include cardiac (heart) and chest procedure supplies, such as ECG electrodes, sterile gloves, face masks and face shields, large dressings, cardiac needle, betadine solution, chest tubes.
Specialty items in the medical crash cart: Cutdown tray, CVP catheter tray, suture.
Warning: Due to the strength of the above medications and resuscitation equipment, the contents of a pediatric crash cart should be much different.
It is important for nursing and medical students to understand the use of these life saving supplies and devices. It is also important that all of these devices be stored in a secured, always ready medical crash cart. To be effective, hospital must prepare a comprehensive crash cart policy that includes crash cart medication list, complete crash cart inventory checklist and the appropriate staff training procedures.
For more information on crash cart types, and on makes and models of emergency crash carts, check out the site http://medicationcarts.net.