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A patient transport stretcher can make the jobs of EMS personnel much easier. However, some of these stretchers may have some well-known problems, recalls or malfunctions associated with them. So, how do you know what problems you should look for prior to purchasing any patient transport stretchers? Here is a list of the most common problems associated with patient transport stretchers.
The castors. There are three common malfunctions associated with castors. You may experience your castors falling off, not properly locking or having poor calibration with your brakes and steering. If your castors are not properly locking, you may be having an issue with the internal components of your locking system. However, before you send it in for any type of repairs, you need to check for any debris or other constrictions around the pedals and castors. Also, remember if you experience poor calibration in your castors, there are certain stretcher models that will require you to recalibrate your castors if you have to remove or replace one. Another item to note is the number of brake pads your stretcher has. The higher the number, the higher the risk one of them malfunctioning.
The fifth wheel. The main function of the fifth wheel is to help steer your stretcher and to give you as smooth a ride as there can be. As you may have guessed, these parts will take a lot of abuse throughout their use. There are a few things to watch for to ensure that your fifth wheel is in proper working order, such as ensuring that the wheel looks into proper position (it should touch the floor), the lever remains locked throughout use, and the lever used to activate your fifth wheel is not bent. If you experience any of these malfunctions, you will need to get your stretcher serviced as soon as possible.
The Backrest Gas Cylinder. As with most parts of your stretcher, this one also gets a workout. The constant use can cause the backrest gas cylinder to wear out or lose their strength. Key symptoms of this piece wearing out, include the cylinder not being able to reach its highest point, the cylinder drifting down after being put into an inclined position, or the cylinder being harder to raise. When the cylinder becomes harder to raise, there is also a greater risk of injury to your staff or patients. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should get your stretcher checked out immediately.
The lift and articulation cylinders. You will need to remember that not all cylinders are created equally. If you look at the weight capacity for your stretcher, you may be able to get a good idea of exactly what your cylinder may or may not be able to handle. There are a few signs of a malfunctioning cylinder that you should be on the lookout for, such as the pedals or the levers that control the cylinder becoming more difficult to maneuver or loud noises or squeaking while operating the cylinders. If you experience any of these signs, you will need to get your stretcher looked at as soon as possible.
The side rails of the stretcher. The side rails of a stretcher are vital for patient safety. They ensure that your patients do not fall off of your stretcher. However, these pieces of equipment can also become worn out and malfunction. Some of the most common problems associated with side rails that you will need to watch out for, include side rails not properly locking into place or falling out of their locked position, becoming a pinching hazard when raising or lowering the side rails and not fully creating a zero transfer gap. If you cannot obtain a zero transfer gap, it will be more dangerous and difficult to transfer a patient laterally.
Stretchers are pieces of equipment that will be used and abused every day. They will go through a lot of wear and tear, and many of the components of the stretcher can wear out and malfunction over time. It is in the best interest of your staff and your patients to properly maintain your stretchers. Please keep a watchful eye on the parts listed above, as they are the most common components to wear out, but you will also need to remember to look over and inspect your stretcher on a regular basis.