6 Common Misconceptions About Portable Suction Machines

Sometimes portable suction machines get a bad rap. That’s unfortunate because these life-saving devices have come a long way in recent years. Let’s debunk some of the most common fallacies about portable suction machines.


Misconception #1: If our hospital has in-wall suction, there is no need for portable suction.

Sure, in-wall suction is great when it is available at every bedside. It is convenient, and you are probably comfortable setting it up and using it for your patients. But it is essential to realize that in-wall suction can fail. If the vacuum pipes clog or there is damage to the central system, your in-wall suction could be rendered useless.


Consider a patient who chokes while on transport or a visitor who chokes in the cafeteria. How are you going to clear their airways quickly while they are far from an in-wall suction port?


This is why a portable suction device is essential. It acts as a redundant system for an in-wall medical vacuum and keeps your patients safe in all areas of the hospital.


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Misconception #2: Portable suction machines are too expensive to purchase.

Any piece of durable medical equipment will have an associated cost, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Portable suction machines come in a range of prices and with different functions. Today’s devices are durable and can last years with proper maintenance, making them a worthy investment.


Misconception #3: Portable suction machines are too bulky.

Gone are the days of giant, heavy machines that take up your whole crash cart or are too cumbersome to carry to a patient’s side. Many current portable suction machines weigh less than 10 pounds, making them easy to move. Additionally, some machines come with brackets that allow them to be mounted to the side of a crash cart, saving valuable space.


Misconception #4: Portable suction machines use too much energy.

In an effort to protect the battery, some portable suction machines drop to float when they are fully charged, therefore reducing energy consumption. There are also devices that solely run on alkaline batteries, eliminating the need for an AC power source.


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Misconception #5: Portable suction machines are too noisy.

You’d be surprised at how quiet most machines today are. The humming of suction will likely not even be noticed over the other ambient noises within the hospital room.


Misconception #6: Portable suction machines cannot safely be used on all of my patients.

Many portable suction devices are capable of safely suctioning a seven-pound newborn or a 90-year-old woman, yet can also provide strong suction to remove thick secretions like vomit when needed. Machines can often be adjusted from as low as 50 mm Hg to more than 500 mm Hg of suction power quickly and easily.


Now that we have dispelled some of the most common misconceptions regarding portable suction devices, you recognize the importance of these small but mighty machines.


Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in November, 2016. It has been re-published with additional up to date content.