Suctioning 101 What We Learned in 2020

Suctioning has long been a mainstay of both emergency and routine medical care, but in 2020, it truly came into its own. On a given team, there might have been one or two suctioning experts. But in the wake of the pandemic, every member of every team needed to become a skilled, compassionate expert at suctioning patients. 


COVID-19 has radically shifted our understanding of what’s normal and safe. It’s changed relationships and communities, workplaces and churches. It’s likely also changing the way you suction patients. Here’s what we’ve learned in 2020 about the importance of suction. Heeding these lessons can help you effectively treat patients each and every time. 


We Can Treat Patients Under Virtually Any Circumstance

This time last year, many of your colleagues might have believed that certain procedures must occur in certain locations to be safe and effective. The pandemic has forced flexibility. It’s now routine to suction patients wherever you find them, because moving them delays treatment, hospitals are often overcrowded, and transferring a patient can increase exposure to any infections they may have. Portable suction has played a vital role in the fight against COVID-19 because it allows providers to safely treat patients without delay. 


Skilled Suctioning Is Mandatory 

In a pandemic that has left thousands of patients in respiratory distress, skilled suctioning is no longer optional. Everyone on your team must know how to effectively and safely suction patients. Because so many patients are in immense distress and do not have support persons with them, compassionate care is vital. Across the nation, organizations are doubling down on training efforts to ensure that everyone is prepared to handle respiratory emergencies. 


Suctioning Saves Lives in Unanticipated Ways 

We’ve long known that suctioning can help clear an obstructed airway. This year taught us that it can also save lives in more direct, unanticipated ways. Many dental offices have turned to more aggressive suctioning to reduce the spread of potentially viral aerosolized particles. Suctioning can also play a role in slowing contagion in the surgical suite. This simple tool has become an important preventative strategy. 


Hygiene Is Everything

It’s never been a secret that viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens are unwelcome intruders in every ambulance and emergency room. Yet like most people, many health workers have not taken this danger seriously. They might wash their hands rarely, reuse equipment, or forget to wear masks. COVID-19 has shown us that these small errors can cost people their lives. Suctioning hygiene is vital, even if a patient isn’t showing symptoms. This means: 

  • Washing hands before and after every patient interaction
  • Sterilizing or cleaning equipment according to manufacturer instructions
  • Disinfecting or wiping down all surfaces
  • Wearing personal protective equipment correctly at all times
  • Securely storing suction equipment away from patients
  • Not placing suction equipment on potentially tainted surfaces
  • Only touching patients or suctioning equipment with gloved hands 
  • Minimizing the number of people in a room, particularly during suctioning
  • Using partitions and other innovative strategies to reduce the risk of spreading aerosolized particles during and after suctioning


Suction Machines Are Vital 

A shortage of suction machines can be catastrophic as the pandemic continues to ravage communities across the globe. Moreover, wall-mounted suction is just not enough. You must be able to treat patients where you find them, including in makeshift triage units, emergency rooms, and even their own homes. 


We’re heading into another pandemic surge, which means organizations must be prepared. The right portable emergency suction unit helps you treat patients and protect your community. For help finding the ideal machine for your organization, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device