Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, writes in her famous book Notes on Nursing, “Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head [not, how can I always do this right thing myself, but] how can I provide for this right thing to be always done?”
As a nurse, you strive provide the best patient care. Yet, just as Nightingale referenced many years ago, you should also take it a step further - create an environment that promotes safe and reliable patient care at all times.
Being prepared with the necessary medical equipment is one way of ensuring this. Let’s review specifically how the availability of medical suction machines improves patient outcomes.
To perform CPR and provide advanced life support at any location
One of the first things you were taught in CPR was to clear the airway. If a patient (or visitor, or hospital employee, etc.) suddenly codes, you may find yourself running the crash cart to a location that is not generally set-up for patient care. In an emergency, every second counts.
With your portable suction machine on the crash cart however, you can quickly suction the airway and save precious time.
To safely transport patients
You see all the time that patients need to be moved throughout the hospital for a variety of reasons. One patient may need to go to CT for a diagnostic exam, one may be rushed to the OR for emergency surgery, while another may need to be transported from a med-surg floor to the ICU.
As discussed in the journal Critical Care Nurse, when a critically ill patient is transported to another location, special consideration needs to be given. An “ICU on wheels” should be created - all of the medical support that the patient requires needs to move, as well. This may include a portable ventilator or oxygen source, cardiac and respiratory monitor, IV fluids and drips, and a portable suction machine. If the patient begins decompensating due to the need for suctioning of secretions while en route, you can quickly respond and improve the patient’s respiratory status.
During times of in-wall suction failure
Whether a result of a power failure, natural disaster, or an internal system failure, there may be times when the in-wall suction may not function as it should. If a portable suction device isn’t accessible, the patient ramifications can be disastrous.
Imagine a surgeon in the middle of an operation when the power suddenly goes out. Even if it is to just close up the patient quickly, a portable suction device would be needed to keep the surgical field clear.
Or, picture a delivery of an infant who was observed to have thick meconium-stained amniotic fluid. When the neonatal intensive care team arrives prior to delivery and is setting up their resuscitation equipment, the in-wall suction is noted to not be functioning properly. A portable suction machine is rushed in. When the baby is born limp and apneic, the team is able to intubate and suction meconium from the baby’s airway using the portable machine before proceeding with the rest of the resuscitation.
How could medical suction improve your patients’ outcomes?
Spend some time thinking about your daily routine in the hospital. Try to anticipate situations where you may need portable suction. By making portable medical suction machines available in these areas, you can “provide for the right thing to always be done”, just as Ms. Nightingale advises.