What's in a name?

What’s in a name?

Would you believe me if I told you a COW and BMW are the same thing? Probably not, but in the world of healthcare they are! The acronyms COW and BMW refer to the mobile workstations nurses use to document patient information, dispense medication, and store their supplies during the multiple rounds they make each day. The fact is, these aren’t the only two acronyms hospitals use, and there are actually many more. Below are a few of the most common acronyms we’ve come across.

  1. COW = Computer on Wheels: Let’s start with an example. If the patient in room 20 overhears a nurse telling his or her aide to “Go get the COW in room 20,” the patient probably wouldn’t think the nurse is referring to a mobile workstation and could become offended. We can all see from this example why calling a mobile workstation a COW might not be the best choice. Not to mention the images that come to mind when we think of a cow (slow and large). Over the years, these units have evolved to become much smaller in footprint and much easier to maneuver to meet the caregiver’s needs.
  2. WOW = Workstation on Wheels: For all you grammar nerds out there, the most glaring problem with this acronym is that “wow” is an interjection, not a noun. While WOW might be a fun way to say and market mobile workstations, the acronym makes no mention of technology. Anymore, these units are much more than just workstations. In fact, they are an incredibly ergonomic means of transporting patient information, medications and supplies to the bedside. Mobile workstations are highly reliant on technology to transport critical patient and medication information.
  3. BMW = Bedside Mobile Workstation: Distinguishing between a mobile workstation and a popular car brand doesn’t come easy when this acronym is used. Referring to a workstation unit as a BMW causes confusion for obvious reasons. While a mobile workstation might be like a BMW in terms of continuous innovation and design, calling one a BMW might be a bit of a stretch.
  4. CAB = Computer at Bedside: While saying CAB might remind you of all the fun and excitement a big city holds, the first issue with this acronym is that it uses the term “computer,” which doesn’t give proper credit to everything a mobile workstation can do. With technology ever changing, you never know what will come next in the evolution of mobile workstations. Perhaps in a few years, instead of a computer, it’s a tablet or an app a nurse can download onto his or her smartphone. For this reason, it’s best not to pigeonhole yourself by referring to the unit as a “computer.” Additionally, this acronym doesn’t mention the mobility function of the unit and can easily be mistaken as a form of public transportation.

As you can see, it appears the industry is having a difficult time settling on a universal acronym for mobile workstations. While no answer is right or wrong, if it were up to you, what would you prefer to call your workstation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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