Your suction machine is an unassuming but key ingredient in your emergency preparedness kit. It allows you to help patients remain comfortable, reduce their risk of serious airway complications, and—in some cases—save their lives.
Airway suctioning is such an everyday part of many providers’ lives that it is easy to forget what a world without suctioning might look like. Quality medical suction saves lives every day. Here’s a reminder of how.
Improving Quality of Life for Long-Term Care Patients
Patients with complex medical needs, especially those on ventilators, may need regular suctioning to help keep their airways clear. Ventilator-associated pneumonia poses a significant threat to these patients, and medical suction is a simple, low-effort way to reduce the risk. Regular suctioning can also help these patients breathe easier and more comfortably, in addition to reducing their risk of potentially life-threatening ailments like aspiration and infectious pneumonia.
In some cases, regular suctioning may also enable a patient to talk more easily. Some patients can even learn to suction themselves at home.
Reducing the Spread of Dangerous Pathogens
Medical suction has always been an option for reducing the aerosolization of infectious particles during certain medical procedures, and the COVID-19 pandemic popularized this option.
Now, dental offices and some other clinics are routinely suctioning patients before and during medical procedures to reduce the risk of contaminating the surrounding air or spreading infectious particles to providers and their equipment.
This intervention is simple and safe, and may improve patient comfort in other ways. It may also encourage people to seek medical care when they might otherwise worry about their risk of getting a dangerous infection.
Preventing Aspiration and Other Crises
Medical suction can reduce the risk of aspiration, choking, and other emergencies during routine medical procedures, such as oral surgery. It can also treat patients who suffer spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries that make it difficult to clear the airway, preventing aspiration and other crises—particularly in the immediate aftermath of the injury.
Aspiration is always an emergency, but the long-term risk is closely tied to the volume of fluid a person aspirates. Rapid suctioning can save a person’s life—even when aspiration is inevitable—because it reduces the total exposure to potentially hazardous aspirates.
Intervening in Emergencies
Medical suctioning is critical and life saving in true emergencies. It can help save drowning victims, clear the airway following a choking episode, and keep the airway open during a wide range of medical procedures. The SALAD suction technique,
designed to be utilized during resuscitation, helps reduce the risk of aspiration and aids
the caregiver, keeping the airway clear and providing visibility during intubation.
Because there are no absolute contraindications to medical suctioning, it is a safe option for most patients experiencing airway or breathing difficulties, and first responders should consider it a first line of defense for respiratory emergencies.
Making Anesthesia Safer
Patients under general anesthesia may lose control over their airway, depending on the level of sedation and the type of anesthesia used. Medical suction can help maintain a patent airway, greatly reducing the risks of anesthesia.
In the case of emergency anesthesia, suction is especially important. Patients undergoing emergency surgery may not have had time to fast prior to being sedated. This increases their risk of vomiting-related aspiration. The right suction device can promptly clear the airway, making emergency surgery safer.
Using the Right Equipment
A medical suction machine is only as useful as it is accessible. This is why many agencies now rely on portable medical suction. You can treat patients wherever you find them, and supplement your wall-mounted suction devices with something smaller and more portable.
The right portable emergency suction device is easy to use and delivers consistent, reliable suction. For help finding the ideal machine for your agency, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device.