Suctioning: a review of current research recommendations.

Day, Tina, Farnell, Sarah and Wilson-Barnett, Jenifer (2002) Suctioning: a review of current research recommendations. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, 18(2), pp. 79-89. ISSN (print) 0964-3397


Effective suctioning is an essential aspect of airway management in the critically ill. However, there are many associated risks and complications. These range from trauma and hypoxaemia to cardiac dysrhythmias and, in extreme cases, cardiac arrest and death. This paper identifies the current research recommendations for safer suctioning practices. The literature is reviewed in three parts: prior to suctioning; during suctioning; and post-suctioning. The recommendations prior to suctioning include patient assessment, patient preparation and hyperoxygenation. The recommendations during suctioning include appropriate catheter selection, depth of insertion, negative pressure, duration of procedure and number of suction passes. Measures for maintenance of asepsis, such as hand-washing, wearing gloves, goggles and aprons are other essential considerations, which must not be overlooked. The recommendations post-suctioning include reconnection of oxygen, patient assessment, reduction of oxygen to baseline level, and providing patient reassurance. In order to improve standards of care, it is imperative that nurses are aware of current research recommendations. This will enable nurses to make informed decisions about their own suctioning practices, based on the individual needs of the patient.

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