Hospitals must regularly contend with medical emergencies, such as heart attacks or allergic drug reactions, that require an immediate response. Hospitals maintain supplies for such emergencies, known as “crash carts,” that contain equipment and medications for diagnosing and, if necessary, reviving patients. Monitoring and maintaining the crash carts requires the careful attention of hospital staff. New technologies, however, allow hospitals to track crash cart inventories more efficiently. One Baltimore hospital is using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to ensure that crash carts are fully stocked with necessary drugs, and that all of the drugs are up-to-date.
A typical crash cart includes multiple shelves and trays, all of which must be carefully and consistently organized. Each crash cart has a cardiac monitor and defibrillator, equipment for intubating a patient, and other associated materials. The nine trays in each cart at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore contain a variety of drugs for emergency use. One tray could have anywhere between twenty-five and seventy-five items. Maintaining a supply of available equipment and drugs, and making sure the drugs are not expired, is critically important for patient safety.