crash_cart_supplies.jpgAs a nurse, you know what to expect to find in a crash cart. From the defibrillator to the IV supplies to the resuscitation medications, everything in the cart has its specific place and purpose. The consumable supplies are restocked after they are used, and the durable medical equipment is properly cleaned so that it is ready to use for the next code.


However, as time goes on, even durable medical equipment will begin to show its age and will need to be replaced with newer and better technology. Your portable suction machine is one example of this. Let’s examine what things you should consider when choosing a new portable suction for your crash cart.


Codes can occur anywhere

Do most codes occur at an existing patient’s bedside? Yes. Do they only occur there? Absolutely not.


The suction machine on your crash cart gives you the ability to clear a person’s airway at any location within the hospital. So when a visitor in the cafeteria goes unconscious or newborn turns blue while en route to the newborn nursery, your portable suction machine can be quickly brought to that location. In the medical world, we know that every second counts. Make sure that your new suction machine is lightweight and easy to transport.


In-wall suction isn’t foolproof.

Sometimes, we tend to overlook the suction machine on the crash cart because we are used to having in-wall suction in our patients’ rooms. But have you ever needed suction in an emergency, only to find that the in-wall suction was not properly set up? Or, even with things set up as they should be, have you ever noticed that the vacuum pressure was too low or non-existent? Unfortunately, in-wall suction isn’t foolproof, either as a result of user-error or system failure.


In these circumstances, a portable suction machine can act as a back-up. As part of the daily crash cart checks, your portable suction machines should be assessed to make certain they are properly charged and have the necessary supplies. That way, with the flip of a switch, your suction machine is ready to go.

Your suction may need to travel with the patient.

What if your patient needs to be transported to the ICU after the code, or the unconscious visitor from the cafeteria needs to be brought to the ER? Some portable suction machines are designed to easily hang from the side of the hospital bed or stretcher. When purchasing a machine with this ability, you can keep your patients safe knowing that suction will be available if needed during transport.

Portable suction machines should be easy to use.

Often, nurses and other health care providers may feel intimidated when it comes to using a portable suction machine and worry that it will take them too long to “figure it out.” However, the machines of today are becoming increasingly intuitive. Look for a machine with clearly marked switches and gauges. You want a machine that feels quick and easy to operate.


You may not use your portable suction machine during every code, but when you do, you want to have a machine that you can rely on to keep your patients safe. Spend some time thinking about the ways that you will use portable suction on your crash cart, and be sure your new units meet those needs.