Investing in a quality portable suction unit helps ensure that you can protect and clear each patient’s airway. But the right machine is just one component of proper airway maintenance; your machine must also work properly. One of your daily tasks should be portable suction machine maintenance. Here’s what you need to know about keeping each unit in excellent working order.
Check and Maintain Your Batteries
Batteries provide your portable suction machine with the power it needs to clear the airway adequately. When each shift begins, check your batteries and test battery life every few months or according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Turn on each unit you operate and check for indicator lights that could indicate a connection issue or battery error. Perhaps most importantly, always carry an additional battery. Particularly in mass casualty and tactical medical scenarios, an extra battery can help you rapidly intervene to save more lives.
Test Your Machine
The best portable suction machines are designed to perform for many years, but every machine eventually shows signs of wear and tear. One of the most common early signs of an aging machine is a loss of suction power. You won’t know this is happening unless you regularly test your machine.
Likewise, testing your machine can alert you to the fact that your machine is losing suction after a few minutes. SSCOR offers a free testing kit that can be used on almost all our machines. If you don’t use an SSCOR portable suction machine, contact the manufacturer and ask about options for testing your machine.
Keep Your Unit Clean and Sanitized
Patients who require medical suction may be carrying dangerous communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. Without proper cleaning and sterilization, your treatment can transfer these infections to other patients, putting their lives in danger. Don’t rely on visual inspection. Assume that the machine is contaminated and disinfect every nook and cranny after each use, diligently following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Store Your Unit in a Convenient Location
A portable suction unit at the back of a storage warehouse or the bottom of a pile of medical supplies is virtually useless. Your portable suction machine must be ready to go when you need it. It should be a standard part of any tactical medical kit and must be stored in an accessible location on ambulances and in offices.
Equally important is storing your unit in a secure location where it is unlikely to be damaged or contaminated by bodily fluids. Keep your unit in a secure bag and ensure all disposables and attachments are tightly sealed.
Ensure You Always Have Everything You Need
A portable suction machine is only as effective as the disposables and attachments that are used with it. Store all of the necessary supplies together. Ensuring you have sufficient disposables is a key component of device maintenance, so regularly check your supply and ensure you have a variety of catheter sizes tailored to the specific needs of the population you treat. For example, agencies primarily treating neonates need smaller, more flexible catheters to protect babies’ delicate airways.
One of the best ways to ensure you have all the needed materials is to retain only the attachments that fit the machine you use. This seems like common sense, but when you switch to a new machine, it’s common to hang on to old attachments. Regularly check your stash of supplies to ensure each item fits the machine currently in use.
Even the best maintenance practices can’t compensate for a subpar suction machine. Make sure you have the right portable emergency suction device for your needs. Download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device, to learn more.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in October, 2018. It has been re-published with additional up to date content.