What is an Anesthesia Cart?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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An anesthesia cart is a mobile anesthesia workstation. Carts can be moved around in an operating room as needed in addition to being moved to different locations in a hospital or clinic. There are a number of unique needs and considerations for anesthesia carts that must be considered during the design process. Generic utility carts are usually not suitable for anesthesia teams, for a variety of reasons ranging from configuration to safety. Medical supply catalogs are generally a good source for anesthesia carts, especially if they offer operating room supplies.

Typically, an anesthesia cart includes several drawers and a flat workstation. Rails or tubs may be mounted on top of the cart for quick access to basic medical supplies and a cabinet may be built into the side of the cart. A portable sharps container can also be attached to the cart for quick and safe disposal of medical sharps like needles used to draw up and administer anesthetics and associated medications.

One concern with an anesthesia cart is the ability to easily organize anesthetics and related supplies. A wide variety of drugs are used by anesthesiologists and they need to be able to get to them quickly in emergencies. Typically the drawers can be configured with dividers, as well as being labeled or coded to allow a care practitioner to quickly find needed supplies, like anesthesia drugs, reversing agents, needles, and so forth.


Another concern is safety. Many anesthesia medications are dangerous and they are also controlled substances. Anesthesia carts typically lock, and modern models may track access entries and generate a record. This record can be matched against the contents of the cart, the procedures it is used in, and the anesthesia plans for patients, allowing a hospital to track how its medications are used and where. Keeping the anesthesia cart locked limits unauthorized access, while keyless entry facilitates quick access in an emergency by people who are qualified to administer anesthesia.

Some anesthesia carts are made from nonferrous materials for safety in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suites. In addition, anesthesia carts are designed to be completely wiped down and sterilized after use in an operating room. Anesthesiologists can organize their carts in the way they feel most comfortable and are also charged with keeping drug logs to track the use of medications, refilling the cart with medications as needed, and safely disposing of unused and expired medications kept on the anesthesia cart.


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