A suction machine is a key component of any medical toolkit. In hospital settings, it prevents aspiration and protects the airway during medical procedures ranging from routine to revolutionary. SSCOR offers a range of suction devices for every agency and need.


Investment in the right suction machine is an investment in patients’ lives. When choosing the right device for your needs, here are seven factors to consider.


  • Portability

Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, hospitals are required to provide care to anyone within a 250-yard radius of their campus. That means offering prompt care to a choking or aspiration victim, even if they don’t make it into the emergency room.


EMS providers must likewise be able to travel to patients, rather than risking patient safety and stability by transporting patients to the truck. Portable suction units enable you to travel to your patients, offering faster and safer stabilizing care.

It’s not enough for a unit to market itself as portable. It must actually be portable for people of varying sizes and strengths. This requires a lightweight unit that can fit into a tactical bag or on a crash cart without crowding out other vital supplies. 


Guide: Portable Emergency Suction: A Critial Tool In Avoiding Aspiration  Pneumonia


  • Battery Life

In tactical emergency situations, you may have to suction several patients in short order. That means there will be little time to recharge a unit with weak battery power, so it’s important to select a unit with long battery life. A unit that charges more quickly offers more stability and flexibility, so ask about battery charging time as well.


  • Compatibility

Hospitals and EMS providers often find themselves overrun by disposable attachments in every shape and size. Yet when it comes time to attach a canister or catheter to a unit, you may find that you have every disposable except for the one you need.


Pick a unit that is compatible either with a wide range of disposables or with the ones you have in the most abundant supply. Then get rid of any disposables you’ll no longer need. To reduce frustration and expedite patient care, store disposables with the unit they fit.


  • Number of Units

How many medical suction machines do you really need? The answer is almost always more than you think. Hospitals that deliver many babies, have large ICUs, act as trauma centers, or are located in sprawling metropolises typically need more units. At a minimum, you should aim to have in-wall suction in every room, portable suction on every crash cart, and a suction unit in every surgical room.


  • Power

A suction unit must be able to deliver suction of at least 300 mmHg, with a flow rate of 30 liters per minute. Many suction units promise to hit this minimum threshold, but some begin losing power as soon as the battery ages or the charge weakens. Get clear details about the suction you can expect when the battery is old or is close to needing a charge.


  • Adjustability

While powerful suction can be life-saving, too much suction on a neonate can be catastrophic. The ideal suction unit is quickly and easily adjustable. Your team should be able to suction a neonate, an ailing senior, and a healthy adult with aspiration pneumonia in a matter of moments, without pausing to change units or check the manual.


New: Free Emergency Aspirator Purchasing Guide for Hospitals


  • Maintenance Time and Costs

In a perfect world, your suction machine would never break or need maintenance. Our world is sadly imperfect, and there’s a huge continuum of maintenance costs among suction machines. Ask the company you’re considering buying from how long you can expect the unit to last and how frequently it will need maintenance. The best units offer a solid warranty.


Also, ask about a testing kit. You don’t want to find out that a unit doesn’t work while you’re tending to an ailing patient. Many companies offer testing kits that enable you to assess battery life and stability, as well as suction power, each time you turn on the unit.

To learn more about the right portable suction unit for your needs, download our free comprehensive guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device.


Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in August 2018. It has been re-published with additional up-to-date content.