Those of us in the medical profession know how important quality equipment is to overall patient care. We are only as good as our equipment; if it doesn't function well, it's hard for us to do our best.
Whether you work for a fire department, an ambulance service, or a hospital, your tools are invaluable to your role, and one of the most important tools you rely on is your portable suction unit.
But how do you choose the best suction unit for your needs? What factors do you consider when deciding on a make or model? Let’s take a look at some of the key qualities of portable suction units to ensure you make the best possible choice.
The Elements of the Best Portable Suction Units
When choosing a portable suction unit, the most important consideration is QUALITY.
- The brand should have an established reputation, one that provides not only a durable unit but also provides technical support and guidance to its customers.
- A quality suction unit will be able to withstand the rigorous environments it faces. From weather extremes to rough handling, the unit must have a tough outer container and solid mechanics.
POWER is another factor to consider when choosing your portable suction unit. Depending on your needs, you may select rechargeable battery-powered units that run off alkaline batteries, which can be replaced as needed. Or specialized units that can run off defibrillator batteries.
And while we’re on the subject of power:
- Your unit must be able to produce the necessary negative pressure to evacuate even the most clogged airway. Negative pressure allows the unit to remove blood, sputum, and vomitus, re-establishing patency and maintaining a clear airway.
- Having an adjustable dial allows you to reduce the pressure, which is crucial when suctioning pediatric and geriatric patients whose delicate oral and nasal tissues are easily traumatized.
SIZE is also an important consideration. Today's portable suction units come in a range of sizes to fit any emergency setting. On a crash cart in the emergency room or for use during in-hospital transfers, a larger unit can be accommodated easily, but in the prehospital setting, the size and weight of your unit can be critical.
If your response area involves open terrain, such as trails, where the patient may be located far from the roadway, you want the smallest, most lightweight unit available—one that can easily be carried in the oxygen or trauma bag. This is especially crucial in tactical medical scenarios when your equipment options are limited to what can be carried into the scene. Portability is key for tactical gear, including your portable suction unit!
ACCESSORIES are also important. Your portable suction unit should come with an array of catheters to handle a wide range of airways. You may encounter a difficult airway when treating certain patients, including obese patients, those with short necks, or patients with spinal disorders that prevent them from lying flat. In these situations, it helps to have a hyper-curved catheter to accommodate the most challenging anatomies.
The tubing and canisters of your portable suction unit must also be durable to prevent dry rot and cracking. They should be easy to replace and cost-effective, so go with a brand that offers all the accessories you will require.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the best portable suction unit for your needs will be achieved through careful consideration and consensus. Get feedback from a wide range of personnel. With everyone's input, you will be sure to cover all the bases. Go with a company that can provide the durable, effective suction units your healthcare setting demands.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in March, 2018. It has been re-published with additional up to date content.