Key Questions to Ask Your Rep About Portable Medical Suction Devices

There are many portable suction devices on the market today, and you want to be sure to make an informed decision before purchasing. To aid in this process, utilize your sales rep!

What are some important questions that you should make sure to address?

What vacuum pressures can this unit achieve, and how easy is it to adjust?

Obviously, you want to purchase a device that is capable of effectively, yet safely clearing your patient’s airway. However, the amount of suction you use will depend on the patient and the situation. For example, removing thick material from the mouth will require stronger suction than when aspirating the trachea.

Ask your sales rep to demonstrate the different levels of suction, as well as how to adjust between them. Some devices offer variable suction that use a dial to deliver incrementally stronger or weaker negative pressure, while others offer a two-setting option, where a flip of the switch will change from “high” to “low” suction.

How big is the unit, and what does it weigh?

By nature of being portable, you want a suction device that is easy to move to where you need it. Ask about the dimensions of the product and its weight in pounds. Consider also where you will store and how you will transport the portable suction device. Will you have to carry it? Will it be on top of a crash cart or mounted to its side?

How long is the warranty?

You want to feel confident in any device you purchase, so a good warranty should last for at least a year. Ask your rep about exactly what is covered and what actions will void the warranty.

It is also a good idea to ask how the unit can be serviced once the warranty has expired.

What kind of batteries do you use, and how long do they last?

Most devices will operate on an AC charge, with a battery back up. Find out the average run-time of the battery. Look for at least 45 minutes of suction on a fully charged battery.  Also, ask if there is any kind of battery replacement policy.

If the unit runs on alkaline batteries, make sure to inquire how many it uses and how often they need to be replaced.

What kind of consumable products are needed?

Every portable suction device will require some kind of canister/collection chamber, tubing, and suction catheters that need to be replaced. Find out from your sales rep whether you can use products that you already stock or if you need to purchase ones that are specific to that device. If so, ask how much they cost since this can be significant budgetary factor.

Can you provide training?

Ideally, you want a portable suction device that is intuitive to operate. In an emergency, you don’t want to waste precious time trying to remember how to turn the unit on or adjust the suction regulator. That being said, you still want to receive proper training on the finer points of the portable suction unit, such as routine maintenance and how to check that your device is working to its full capacity. Ask your representative whether hands-on training or online training is available.

Sure, your medical device representatives are hoping to make a sale, but they are also a great source of information about their products. Use this list as a starting point for talking to your rep about portable suction devices, so that you can find one that best fits your hospital’s needs.