The Importance of Portable Suction in Hospital Supply Planning

The hallmark of a great hospital lies in its ability to consistently deliver high-quality patient care. This can only be possible with the proper resources, including staff, medical equipment and supplies, and physical space.

In addition to carrying this out on a daily basis, hospitals must also be prepared to meet patient care needs in a variety of challenging situations, including internal and external disasters. Plans must be in place to ensure continued provision of these needed resources, so that patients, staff and visitors remain safe and cared for.

Stop for a moment and think about everything that is needed for a hospital to run each day. Then think about the fact that the Joint Commission requires all hospitals to be able to function self-sufficiently for at least 96 hours in the wake of a disaster. It becomes glaringly evident just how difficult and expansive hospital supply planning can be.

What is involved in hospital supply planning?

Let’s do a quick review of some of the main systems that must be accounted for in hospital supply planning:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Food
  • Blood Products
  • Medical Gases
  • Medical Suction
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical Equipment- both durable and consumable
  • Communication

Each of these must have a backup supply or some form of a redundant system to rely on if normal supply lines are disrupted. Otherwise, essential patient care activities cannot continue to take place.

How can portable suction help with existing patients during a disaster?

If a disaster were to cause a disruption in the central vacuum system or, in the worst case scenario, an evacuation was required, portable suction units would serve a vital role. Just consider all of the situations that require use of medical suction, including:

  • Clearing the airways of patients in need - such as those on ventilators, with tracheostomies, or those who cannot effectively clear on their own
  • During a surgical procedure
  • Handling a trauma with profuse bleeding
  • During the delivery of a baby, especially if meconium is present
  • For patients requiring pleural or gastric suction

Reliable portable suction devices would allow these services to continue uninterrupted. Many units today are capable of various levels of suction, allowing them to be used in a variety of situations. In the case of an extended power outage, there are portable suction devices that run on alkaline batteries to ensure that you will not be without suction during a critical time.

How can portable suction devices help with a patient surge during a disaster?

In a large scale disaster, hospitals may need to accommodate an even greater number of patients than they typically serve. Patients with life-threatening injuries will likely arrive in the ER, and additional triage and patient-care areas may need to be temporarily established to handle this influx.  Portable suction machines would be one of the items necessary for this set up.

Portable suction devices are a great back up to the hospital’s in-wall vacuum system. When it comes to supply planning for a disaster, hospitals must consider all of the patients that could be impacted by the loss of central vacuum, as well as the potential for treating incoming patients, and make sure to keep a large cache of suction devices ready to use as needed.