Oral Suctioning

Document created by kbass on Dec 28, 2016Last modified by mcunningham on Mar 22, 2017
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To remove oral secretions when the patient is unable to do it on their own


Supplies you will need

  • Suction machine
  • Connecting tubing
  • Collection bottle
  • Yankauer catheter
  • Container of water


What to do

  1. Place the suction machine on a sturdy surface that will support its weight. Plug the cord into a properly grounded (three-prong) electrical outlet.
  2. Before treatment, wash your hands with soap and water and dry completely.
  3. Explain to the patient what you are going to do, even if you don't think they can hear.
  4. Connect the tubing to the outlet port on the lid of the collection bottle. (See Picture A)
    • Attach the connecting tubingAttach the suction tubing to the suction catheter
      Picture APicture B
  5. Attach the Yankauer catheter to the other end of the tubing. (See Picture B)
  6. Turn on the machine and check for negative pressure. To do this, kink the connecting tubing with the machine running and note the reading on the gauge. The correct setting should be 20-30 mm of Hg (Mercury) for adults, 15-25 mm for children and 10-20 mm for infants. Adjust the pressure by turning the regulator knob on the suction machine. (See Picture C and Picture D)
    • A typical suction machineCheck for proper negative pressure
      Picture CPicture D
  7. Insert the Yankauer catheter into the mouth moving slowly to the back. If patient starts to cough or gag wait until the patient recovers before continuing. NEVER SUCTION FOR LONGER THAN 15 SECONDS.
  8. If repeated suctioning is needed, allow the patient to rest for a minute before continuing.
  9. After suctioning the patient, suction water through the catheter until the catheter and tubing are clear. NEVER ALLOW THE SUCTION CONTAINER BOTTLE TO RISE ABOVE THE FILL LIMIT LINE. (EMPTY THE BOTTLE IN THE TOILET WHEN THE FLUID REACHES THE FILL LIMIT LINE.) (See Picture E)
    • Remove the collection bottle
      Picture E
  10. Turn machine off and wash your hands.


Care of suction machine

Cleaning your equipment is simple and very important. Proper care prevents infection. Cleaning should be done in a dust- and smoke-free area away from open windows.


The following are instructions for cleaning your equipment:

  1. Wash your hands and put on disposable gloves.
  2. Remove the tubing from the port on the bottle.
  3. Remove the bottle from the suction machine and remove the lid from the bottle.
  4. Wash the bottle, bottle lid, tubing and Yankauer catheter in a solution of liquid detergent and warm water. Rinse thoroughly and place back into suction machine, letting it air dry.
  5. Your equipment must be disinfected weekly using a vinegar/water solution. Soak for a minimum of 30 minutes then rinse and let air dry.
  6. The machine should be covered and stored in a plastic bag when not in use.


Special instructions

  1. Keep machine clean by wiping it with a clean, damp cloth as needed.
  2. Do not put the machine on the floor either for treatments or storage, to prevent exposure to germs.
  3. Always have an extra bottle, tubing and catheter in case you need it.


Adapted from: Harkreader, H., & Hogan, M.A. (2007). Fundamentals of nursing: Caring and clinical judgment. St. Louis: Saunders



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