SUCTIONING THE PATIENT
Suctioning should not be continuous for more than 10 to 15 seconds. Suctioning
removes oxygen as well as secretions; therefore, longer periods of continuous
suctioning may result in an oxygen deprivation that is too severe for the patient.
If you hold your breath during the suctioning period, you will be more aware of
the oxygenation level of the patient. Procedures for suctioning are given in
the following paragraphs.
a. Oral Route. The oral route is normally used with an alert, cooperative
(1) Tell the patient to cough. Coughing will help to bring up secretions to
the back of the throat so they can be easily removed.
Insert the tip of the catheter into the patient's mouth without using
(a) Be aware that advancing the catheter too far into the back of the
patient's throat may stimulate his gag reflex. This could lead to vomiting and aspiration
of the stomach contents.
(b) If an oropharyngeal airway is in place, insert the catheter alongside
the airway, then back into the pharynx.
(3) Apply suction by placing the thumb of the nonsterile hand over the
suction port. Aspirate secretions from the back of the throat, along the outer gums and
cheeks, and around the base of the tongue. Do not apply continuous suctioning for
more than 10 to 15 seconds.
(4) Withdraw the catheter using a rotating motion. This prevents sucking
mucous membrane tissue into the catheter.
(5) Clear the catheter by inserting the tip in the sterile solution and suction
the solution through the catheter.
Repeat these procedures until all secretions have been aspirated.
Allow the patient to rest between suctioning and re-oxygenate the patient
before each suctioning.)
(7) Discontinue suctioning when the patient's breathing efforts become less
labored and difficult; and when the noisy, rattling, or gurgling sounds are no longer
heard. In some patients, the complete absence of gurgling or rattling sounds cannot be
achieved. If the sounds are still present after aspirations, notify the supervisor.