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Types of Medical Carts: Their Benefits and Features

By CME Corp Staff | October 19, 2023

Well-designed medical carts are invaluable assets for hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. Regardless of the type or purpose of the cart, immediately accessible supplies facilitate efficiency and by extension advance patient care.

This article will explore:

  • Types of Medical Carts
  • Customization and Accessories
  • Types of Medical Carts Available at CME
  • FAQs About the Types of Medical Carts

Types of Medical Equipment Carts

Medical carts of every variety are in view at every turn in a hospital. They are a staple in clinics or practice exam rooms.

Carts are designed to organize the critical supplies and specialized instruments needed for patient care. They come in all

  • shapes and sizes,
  • are fabricated in stainless, aluminum, antimicrobial plastic resin or MRI compatible material,
  • and can be mobile or stationery.

Anesthesia Carts

Anesthesia carts are a type of medication cart specifically engineered for anesthesiologists. They are most commonly mobile rather than fixed and tethered to a power outlet. Since they carry their own power supply, healthcare staff can efficiently and safely transport anesthesia supplies and equipment between the operating theater and patient rooms.

Very often these carts are distinguished by their blue drawers or blue drawer pulls.

Thoughtfully designed Anesthesia carts incorporate lightweight aluminum parts and stainless-steel alloys for the stress-bearing components.

Other sought-after features include security, long battery life, a small footprint, height adjustability, and most important to the healthcare setting, carts need to have easily accessible surfaces for sanitizing.

Many anesthesia carts are also MRI compatible. Look for the ASTM icons for MR SAFE or MR CONDITIONAL.

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Bassinet Carts

Bassinet carts, sometimes referred to as nurseries on wheels, are the first bed newborns will experience. These carts are designed so new moms and nurses will not have to bend too far to bathe, change, or check-in on a newborn baby. Most often these carts are mobile, making transportation of the newborn safe and efficient.

Sturdy construction is the first and most important feature to look for when evaluating bassinet carts. Stainless steel, antimicrobial plastic resin and health grade laminate or a combination of these materials are common.

Other features to consider are:

  • Wheel locks,
  • Soft wheel casters
  • Stainless Steel Handles
  • Storage Options
    • Shelving systems
    • Narrow casework
    • Soft close drawer slides that prevent opening
    • Two-way drawers
  • Height adjustability
  • Ergonomic design
  • Multipoint contacts to secure the basket.
  • Soft edge basket
  • Retractable work surface
  • Accessories like tubs, chart holders, drawer dividers, mattress pads and keylock options

In addition to these features and accessories, look for bassinet carts that offer an unobstructed view of the infant.

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Bulk Cleaning Carts

Also called janitorial or housekeeping carts, bulk cleaning carts are used primarily by housekeeping and janitorial staff. These carts keep cleaning supplies and tools neatly organized and ready for use. Some healthcare organizations may assign carts to rooms, departments, or wings to minimize cross-contamination and increase infection control.

While not glamorous, bulk cleaning carts are critical to the infection control process in acute care settings. The CDC has published a list of best practices and guidelines for the use of cleaning carts in the healthcare environment. One of the best practices identified is to use carts with lockable compartments to keep cleaning and disinfecting solutions secured.

Other features to look for in bulk cleaning carts include:

  • Compact design for maneuverability around corners and obstacles or narrow spaces
  • Ample storage for supplies, shelves for example
  • Attachments like hooks or clips to secure and organize cleaning tools.
  • Durable construction materials like stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic
  • Quiet, non-marking caster wheels
  • Ergonomic handles with non-slip grips

Carefully chosen janitorial carts can have a positive impact on the efficiency of housekeeping staff and help to reduce musculoskeletal disorders caused by overexertion and repetitive motions.

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Bulk Product Transportation Carts

Platform carts and tilt carts are often categorized as bulk transportation carts and are most often used by maintenance personnel in the healthcare setting.

With a flat bed and sturdy wheels, platform carts are the go-to cart for transporting large or heavy items. Most commonly these carts feature a steel deck.

Tilt carts are designed to efficiently transport large loads of soiled linen, bagged waste, janitorial supplies and much more. Look for sturdy construction and easy maneuverability.

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Case Carts

Case carts are designed to keep sterilized surgical instruments and supplies clean, organized, and ready for use. Although most often associated with hospitals, these carts are invaluable assets to surgical centers, clinics, and even some private practices. The presence of case carts in the operating room helps maintain workflows and improve efficiency.

These multi-purpose surgical carts are available as open carts which are lightweight and economical. They are also available as closed case carts with doors to offer extra contaminant protection. Closed case carts can offer additional workspace for healthcare professionals.

In addition to high-grade stainless-steel construction, quality case carts may offer features such as

  • Adjustable stainless-steel shelves
  • Shock absorbing wheels with stainless casters
  • Locking wheels
  • Available back table extension
  • Storage bins
  • Locking mechanisms
  • Hitches for towing multiple carts at one time

Case carts are available in several standard sizes to accommodate a range of surgical environments. For facilities with unique requirements, most manufacturers offer custom design options.

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Casting Carts

Commonly found in hospital emergency rooms, emergency clinics, and orthopedic practices, casting carts store casting supplies and devices needed to treat strains, sprains, and fractures. In addition to organizing supplies and bringing them to the point of care, casting carts provide additional workspace with rimmed flat tops.

Casting carts are most often mobile and feature several drawers of various depths.

Other valuable features to look for when evaluating casting carts include:

  • Locking mechanisms such as a break away lock, key lock, or electronic lock
  • Caster wheels with locks
  • Antimicrobial powder coat finish
  • Push/Pull handle(s)

Optional features are available to customize the casting cart to the unique needs of the facility and may include:

  • Side bucket shelf,
  • Side cabinet
  • Tourniquet Pole
  • Drop Shelf
  • Drawer dividers
  • Towel bar

Most manufacturers offer a standard range of heights and drawer configurations. Many also offer customization to help ensure the casting cart supports efficient workflows for even the most unique healthcare environments.

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Cylinder Carts

Cylinder carts are designed to store and safely transport multiple oxygen or other medical gas tanks. The carts are commonly sized to hold D and E size cylinders. Larger cylinder carts offer a layered cylinder design.

When evaluating cylinder carts look for

  • Individual spacing for cylinders
  • Welded construction using iron and/or steel.
  • Swivel, locking caster wheels.
  • Push handles
  • Lockable hinged top

Specific features to look for on layered cylinder carts include shelves designed to be dust and dirt free as well as allowing free air flow.

After assessing the needs of the healthcare facility choose from cylinder carts that hold from 1 to 50 or more cylinders.

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Computer Carts

Mobile Electronic Health Record (EHR) Computer Carts are critical to seamless patient care.

Originally just a laptop computer on a cart, medical computer carts have evolved into mobile workstations complete with power.

Lightweight yet rugged and agile, these mobile computing workstations help improve clinical workflow with access to critical patient records at the point of care. This facilitates uninterrupted patient care throughout and across nursing shifts.

From the simple mobile laptop carts common in private physician practices, to medical flat screen carts with keyboard, and on to the powered medication delivery carts favored by hospitals and clinics, mobile medical computer carts are indispensable for compliance with HIPAA data protection regulations.

With computer technology, sensitive personal information is only viewable by authorized healthcare professionals, making it far more secure than the paper records of the past.

While central, fixed workstations capitalize on the security associated with EHRs, people passing by may be able to view information on the screen. Medical computer carts allow staff to position the screen to be visible only to themselves and the patient at the point of care.

Access to patient files at the bedside goes a long way to increasing patient/caregiver interaction and comfort. Physicians and nurses are afforded the opportunity to adjust the height of the workstation. This feature invites patients to view information related to their care while treatment plans are being discussed. Patients who understand their treatment plan and what is likely to happen moving forward feel involved. By extension, they may feel more in control of what seems out of control.

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EKG Carts

Portable diagnostic equipment boosts workflow efficiency and EKG Carts are another example of carts designed to eliminate the time wasted waiting for patients to be transported to a specific room for diagnostic testing.

EKG carts are small enough to be brought to a patient’s bedside but robust and sturdy enough to support EKG/ECG machines. EKG/ECG equipment is heavy but at the same time delicate.

Given the delicate nature of the onboard equipment, specialty carts like EKG carts are designed with wide, stable bases to prevent tipping. Yet, despite its broad base, the cart is narrow enough to stand discreetly in aisles and hallways without becoming an obstruction.

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Emergency Mobile Medical Carts

The first thirty (30) minutes of a medical emergency are the most critical. Therefore, emergency equipment and medications must be immediately accessible by healthcare professionals to address the emergency efficiently and effectively.

Red Emergency Mobile Medical carts are staples in healthcare environments where a patient could experience an unexpected medical event. These mobile and extraordinarily maneuverable medical equipment transportation carts house

  • advanced cardiac life support (ACLS),
  • first-line drugs,
  • a defibrillator,
  • bag valve mask,
  • and suction devices essential for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Typical medical crash carts are multi drawered and contain standard emergency supplies organized by purpose. Look for MR SAFE OR MR CONDITIONAL icons designating the cart as MRI compatible.

While mobile emergency crash carts are most often red, some healthcare organizations may opt for blue, to coordinate with the emergency signal “code blue.”

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Laundry and Linen Carts

Used in medical facilities, nursing homes, and residential behavioral health centers, laundry and linen carts are used to transport soiled laundry and clean linens within the facility.

Typically, laundry carts are very large baskets, often outfitted with a fabric liner, mounted on wheels. Other materials commonly used to construct laundry carts are fiberglass and heavy-duty poly plastic. These rolling laundry carts feature caster wheels attached to steel bases. Because laundry needs can vary within a facility, laundry carts are available in a variety of sizes.

Clean linen carts typically feature shelves and may be open or enclosed. Locking doors and caster wheels with locks are other common features. Linen carts may be constructed of aluminum, PVC, fiberglass, or stainless steel.

Review the laundry needs of the healthcare facility to determine the size and durability required for both laundry carts and linen carts.

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Mail Carts

The need for the mail cart is waning significantly with the widespread use of tablets and cell phones.

However, mail carts do still exist and may be found in facilities such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities where patients may receive physical mail.

These carts come in a variety of sizes and generally feature two levels of baskets (or bins) set on four wheels.

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Medical Isolation Carts

Often identified by their yellow color, Medical Isolation carts are used by hospital staff when caring for patients who need to be isolated to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

These multi drawer carts organize PPE supplies such as

  • gloves,
  • gowns,
  • shoe covers,
  • masks,
  • goggles,
  • face shields
  • hand sanitizer as well as
  • plastic and laundry bags.

Although lightweight and mobile, isolation carts are generally fitted in patients’ rooms near the door for ease of access for caregivers coming into and out of the room. Proximity to the door also allows for efficient restocking of supplies.

Just as patient room sizes vary from hospital to hospital, isolation carts are available in a range of sizes with variable numbers of drawers.

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Medication Carts

Medication carts are staples in acute care and post-acute care facilities. Carefully chosen and configured medication carts help workflow efficiency and staff comfort while also ensuring medications that fall under state and federal drug laws are properly stored and secured.

Medication carts should be durable, accessible, organized, and configured for the specific needs of the facility. Carts with the wrong drawers or improper height can make dispensing medication an arduous task.

Important features to look for in medication carts include:

  • Locking mechanisms
  • Drawer configuration
    • Drawer glides
    • Soft-close drawers
    • Drawer dividers
  • Maneuverability aids
    • Push/Pull handles or bars.
    • Caster wheels
    • Wheel locks
  • Antimicrobial powder coating
  • Rounded corners
  • Corner bumpers

In addition to considering the number and size of drawers, cart height, and maneuverability aids, evaluate the need for technology features such as tablet or computer mounts and integrated keyboard tray. These features give healthcare professionals access to a patient’s EHR at the point medication is dispensed, a big bonus in terms of efficiency. Look for mountings that tilt and pivot to accommodate the heights and preferences of the staff.

With pharmacies offering medication delivery and packing it is important to check with the pharmacy before choosing medication cart drawer sizes and trays. The type of medication packaging, multi dose blister packs for example, will influence the configuration of the cart. Drawer depths and dividing trays can be determined by the packaging method of the pharmacy. Look for adjustable drawer dividers to ensure the cart is as versatile as possible.

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Modular Medical Supply Carts

Modular medical supply carts offer healthcare facilities, notoriously short on supply space, a means of organizing supplies for easy access. These carts are designed to accommodate a variety of baskets, shelves, and bins. Telescopic slides allow the shelves or baskets to be easily extended. While non- marking caster wheels offer configuration options to accommodate variable storage spaces.

Modular carts may be open shelving units or closed. Closed modular supply carts often feature glass or accordion style pull down doors.

These versatile carts are available in a wide range of heights, from forty-three inches up to over eight feet tall.

Easily maintained, modular medical supply carts offer versatile organization for almost any healthcare setting.

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MRI Compatible Medical Carts

MRI compatible medical carts used in magnetic resonance environments must meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Designation of MR Conditional or MR SAFE.

MR Conditional IconMR CONDITIONAL is defined by ASTM F2503 as “an item that has been demonstrated to pose no known hazards in a specified MR environment with specified conditions of use”1. Labels are required to alert users of the limitations of the cart.

Carts meeting the ASTM criteria for MR Conditional are identified with a yellow equilateral triangle bordered in black and displaying in black capital letters “MR” in the center.

MRI Safe IconMR SAFE is defined as “an item that poses no known hazards in all MR environments and may be taken into, used or placed anywhere within any MR environment without risk or potential harm.” MR SAFE materials are nonconducting and nonmagnetic.

MRI compatible medical carts determined to be MR SAFE are identified with a white square, bordered in green, with a green MR in the center. This icon may also be displayed as a green square bordered with white and displaying a white “MR” in the center.

Both the MR CONDITIONAL and MR SAFE icons are universal.

Healthcare grade MRI carts organize the supplies and tools needed for efficient workflows in MR environments. Since no two MR environments are identical, MRI compatible carts are available in a variety of sizes with a range of drawer depths. Many manufacturers also offer customization.

In addition to considering the optimal height of the MRI compatible medical cart, number and size of drawers evaluate other features such as

  • Locking mechanisms
  • Drawer glides
  • Soft-close drawers
  • Drawer dividers
  • Maneuverability aids
    • Push/Pull handles or bars.
    • Caster wheels
    • Wheel locks
  • Antimicrobial powder coating
  • Rounded corners
  • Corner bumpers

Do not forget to ask about optional accessories such as removable plastic tops, IV poles, side shelves, back racks, and side bars.


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Pediatric Emergency Medical Carts

Pediatric emergency medical carts are one of the only medical carts that adhere to any form of standardization. These vital carts organize emergency equipment and supplies specifically for the youngest of patients.

Found in hospitals, emergency and urgent care centers, these emergency medical carts have color coded drawers based on the color zones of the Broselow Tape. Color coded drawers ensure that medications and supplies directly correlated to the size of a child are immediately accessible. The pediatric code cart color scheme is the only cart color coding that has been universally adopted by the healthcare industry.

Like adult crash carts, pediatric crash carts are equipped with life saving devices such as

  • advanced cardiac life support (ACLS),
  • first-line drugs,
  • a defibrillator,
  • bag valve mask,
  • and suction devices

Accurate weight is critical to properly dosing medication for children. With this in mind, many pediatric emergency carts will offer an integrated scale. Often the top of the cart is prepped for laying a young patient down.

Pediatric emergency medical carts are available in a variety of standard heights and ranges of drawer depths for versatile configurations. Accessories such as drawer dividers, IV Poles, canister shelves, and PPE dispensers are often available. Always ask about the complete line of accessories and customization options.

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Phlebotomy Carts

Like anesthesia carts and EKG carts, Phlebotomy carts are most often mobile and constructed of lightweight aluminum with strategic components made of stainless-steel alloys.

With most manufacturers offering customization, the configuration of sizes and shapes for phlebotomy carts is almost limitless. From the simple two bin mobile workstation effortlessly gliding on five ball bearing casters to the multi drawer cart with

  • side waste containers,
  • sharps containers,
  • and side shelf wings,

blood draw supply carts are a staple asset in the clinical market.

Height adjustability keeps vials, sharps, and other supplies at arm’s reach for every Phlebotomist.

Immediate access to phlebotomy supplies facilitates safe and efficient blood draws which, by extension, can translate into a superior patient experience.

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Procedure Carts

The term procedure cart refers to any medical cart configured and stocked with supplies for a specific purpose.

Anesthesia, emergency crash carts, isolation, and medication carts are examples of procedure carts specialized for a single purpose.


Supply and Utility Carts

Supply and utility carts are available in a variety of designs. From multi shelved, open carts to multi-drawered enclosed carts to platform trucks and tilt carts supply and utility carts can serve any number of purposes within a healthcare facility.

Carefully assessing the needs of the facility and the preferences of the maintenance staff is a first step to sourcing the best supply transportation equipment. Thoughtfully selected supply and maintenance carts can help workflow efficiency and improve staff safety.

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Treatment and Wound Care Carts

Wound care carts, also known as treatment carts, bring supplies directly to the patient’s bedside whether in a hospital or long-term care facility.

These multi drawered mobile medical carts typically organize and house the

  • wound cleansers,
  • tapes,
  • gloves,
  • dressings,
  • syringes,
  • and needles

needed for procedures or wound care.

Antimicrobial worksurfaces with rimmed edges are preferred by healthcare professionals in the ongoing effort to abate infection pathogens.

Given the diversity of healthcare facility design, wound care carts are available in a wide range of heights and widths to accommodate varied and dynamic medical environments.

Like other medical equipment carts, treatment carts are ergonomically designed, lightweight, and readily maneuverable in small areas.

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Medical Carts Customization and Accessories for Different Types

No two healthcare facilities are the same. Even within a single facility or department there may be differing workflows requiring specially configured carts to optimize the workflow and help promote staff well-being.

Generally speaking, medical cart manufacturers will offer a variety of cart heights and drawer depths. Caster wheels and lightweight construction are almost universal features these days.

Different healthcare environments may require distinct levels of security for the carts in use. The three most common locking mechanisms are breakaway locks, key locks, and electronic locks.

Medical carts are differentiated or “specialized” with color, drawer configurations within the available height, and accessories.

Although not healthcare standards, crash or emergency carts are usually red. Blue is also a popular color for code carts. Anesthesia carts may also sport blue powder coat paint. Isolation carts are very often yellow to distinguish them from general supply carts. Many manufacturers offer a variety of colors, be sure to inquire.

While 3, 6, 9, and 12 are the most popular drawer depths, medical cart manufacturers often offer custom drawer depths upon request.

Accessories are the best way to really optimize a medical equipment cart for efficiency. Although far from a complete list, here are some of the most common cart accessories.

  • Trays and adjustable drawer dividers
  • Utility Hooks
  • Cardiac Board Brackets
  • Overhead Shelves
  • Push/Pull Handle
  • Guard Rail for the Top
  • Chart Holders
  • Power Strip and Cord Wrap
  • Sharps Container
  • Locking Bracket for canisters
  • Waste Bin Shelf
  • Side Storage Bin
  • Backer Board
  • IV Pole

Regardless of the purpose of the medical equipment cart, these accessories are useful. In healthcare environments, the unexpected can occur at any moment. Customizing medical carts with a variety of accessories not only promotes efficiency related to the cart’s purpose but also equips caregivers for the unexpected.

Explore the CME Corp. medical carts online shop for the complete selection of carts and accessories.


Different Types of Medical Carts Available at CME

Medical equipment carts are the backbone of hospitals, clinics, and non-acute care facilities.


  • foster a seamless workflow among caregivers, and
  • mitigate injuries to healthcare providers.

From anesthesia to phlebotomy and everything in between, medical equipment carts are a powerful remedy for the challenges faced by the healthcare industry.

CME offers carts for almost every need in almost any healthcare environment. We have built relationships with the best medical cart manufacturers. Our medical equipment distribution experts can help you configure medical carts for dedicated purposes then work with manufacturers to source the best medical cart for your needs and budget. We can also work with manufacturers to design custom carts.

Our Direct-to-Site delivery and logistics team will ensure that your carts are delivered fully assembled with the accessories necessary for your environment when it is convenient for your staff and patients.

Click CHAT to begin configuring medical carts to suit your unique needs and budget.



Types of Medical Carts FAQs

What are medical carts used for?

Medical carts are used to store and transport important medical devices and supplies within the healthcare environment. Many medical carts used in healthcare facilities are mobile and feature several drawers of various sizes.

What are the different medical carts?

Medical carts are differentiated by their purpose. Some examples of different purposes are emergency carts, anesthesia carts, phlebotomy carts, medication carts, and treatment carts.

Are medical carts FDA approved?

The FDA considers medical carts to be medical devices. As medical devices, medical carts do need to be FDA approved.

What are the colors of medical carts?

General purpose medical carts are generally white, beige, or gray. However medical cart manufacturers may offer other colors. Emergency carts are typically red, anesthesia carts, blue and isolation carts yellow.


About CME: CME Corp is the nation’s premier source for healthcare equipmentturnkey logistics, and biomedical services, representing 2 million+ products from more than 2,000 manufacturers. With two corporate offices and 35+ service centers, our mission is to help healthcare facilities nationwide reduce the cost of the equipment they purchase, make their equipment specification, delivery, installation, and maintenance processes more efficient, and help them seamlessly launch, renovate and expand on schedule.

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