Four Key Considerations for Purchasing Portable Medical Suction Devices

When purchasing durable medical equipment for your hospital, you want to be sure that your money is going to a product that best fits your needs. With growing competition and ever-improving technology, chances are that you will have a wide range of choices when making your selection.

So how do you choose wisely?

In the case of portable suction devices, let’s examine some of the most important things that you should consider.

1) How do you intend your suction to be used?

There are several different ways that a portable suction device may be used within the hospital:


  • In a small, rural or older hospital without in-wall suction, it may be used as the primary means of suctioning a patient’s airway.
  • It may be used in emergent situations, to treat a patient that codes away from the bedside or needs to be suctioned during transport.
  • In the case of a disaster, hospitals may experience utility failures that impact power and medical vacuum. Some portable suction machines are designed specifically for these situations. 

This will impact your choice of device. The size, weight, and durability of the appropriate suction device may vary based on whether it is used routinely or only occasionally. The type of battery and how long it will run on a charge will also be important based on how it will be used. For example, a portable suction machine that runs off of alkaline batteries may be the best choice for disaster preparedness.

2) What types of patients will use your portable suction units?

The amount of negative pressure that you need a portable suction machine to provide will depend on the age of your patient and what you are suctioning. You will need a higher level of suction for an adult trauma patient than you will for a 2-pound baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Make sure that any devices you purchase can safely reach the appropriate negative pressure for your patient population.

3) What is your budget?

Your choice will be impacted by the amount of money that is available to spend. In addition to evaluating the price of a single unit, keep in mind the following:

  • Are you replacing your entire stock of portable suction machines, or do you have a gradual process of swapping out older machines over time?
  • Do you keep extra units stocked as backup for times when machines need to be serviced or in the case of a sudden patient surge?
  • Are the new portable suction machines compatible with your existing canisters, tubing, and suction catheters?  

4) What did you like or dislike about your previous portable suction devices?

You can learn a lot from past experience. Ask your staff about any problems they encountered, as well as features that they found helpful when using portable suction. Did the battery die too quickly? Was the suction too weak? Was the unit too heavy? Use this information to guide your future decisions.

A lot of thought and planning goes into every purchasing decision made for the hospital. These key considerations will help guide you in your process of selecting the right portable medical suction device.