Policies,Clinical,UW Health Clinical,General Care and Procedures,Procedures

Suction (Wall Piped Vacuum) Outage - Perioperative Areas (2.3.10)

Suction (Wall Piped Vacuum) Outage - Perioperative Areas (2.3.10) - Policies, Clinical, UW Health Clinical, General Care and Procedures, Procedures


Policy Title: Suction (Wall Piped Vacuum) Outage – Perioperative Areas
Policy Number: 2.3.10
Category: UW Health
Type: Ambulatory and Inpatient
Effective Date: August 8, 2016


To establish protocol for handling situations of wall piped vacuum failure within the perioperative areas at the
University Hospital, the American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) and the American Center (TAC).


The University Hospital, AFCH, and TAC have independent wall piped vacuum supply systems and
therefore do not impact adjacent facilities. Wall piped vacuum is available in all Operating Rooms,
Procedure Rooms, and Pre/Post-op patient bays. University Hospital and AFCH have separate wall piped
vacuum. In the event of a failure an alternative vacuum source needs to be obtained.


A. Charge nurse of each affected area is informed of alarm activation.
i. Alarm panels are located in the following areas:
a. Inpatient O.R. – D6/355
b. Outpatient Surgery – F6/289, F6/214, and D6/241
c. AFCH O.R. – 3203
d. PACU – D6/320 and E5/312
e. First Day Surgery – F4/380
f. GI/Advanced Procedures – D6/230 and D6/205
g. TAC PACU – 1330
h. TAC Pre/Post – 1134, 1154, 1234, 1254
i. TAC OR - 1370
B. The charge nurse, or a designee, will call Engineering 263-5205 and report the vacuum low pressure alarm
has been activated. The person calling Engineering will request frequent repair status reports so that
compensating steps can be ceased as soon as possible.
C. Charge nurse or a designee will inform each Operating Room team of the vacuum failure and ask that any
suction lines not in use be turned off or clamped; except for those moments when they actually are needed.
Reducing flow rate on active lines would also help conserve residual vacuum level in the system.
i. When the vacuum fails, the system gradually fails. Residual pressure in the system will allow for
some sustained use. The timeline is dependent on the use of the system.
D. Operating Rooms not in use should be checked to assure that all lines are turned off.
E. In order to be able to suction an airway, the flow capacity should be at least 30 liters/min. The capacity of
wall piped vacuum is 140 liters/min. If the Inpatient Operating Room vacuum fails, it is likely that the
Outpatient Operating Room will also experience vacuum failure. Communication between the Inpatient
Operating Room and Outpatient Operating Room charge nurses will facilitate distribution of alternate suction
sources during daytime, weekday hours. Staff will obtain alternate electric suction units from one of the
sources supported by the main hospital vacuum (For a list of sources refer to Appendix: Alternate Vacuum
Sources in the Operating Rooms).
F. Alternative vacuum sources for complete power failure:
i. Operating Rooms refer to Appendix document entitled “Alternate Vacuum Sources in the Operating
ii. PACU’s use Laerdal Suction Devices. To maintain a charge the Laerdal device should remain
plugged in at all times.
a. Staff should contact Central Services if additional portable suction is needed for the


Author: Director, Surgical Services Departments
Senior Management Sponsor: SVP, Patient Care Services and CNO
Reviewers: Surgical Materials Coordinator; Director, Plant Engineering; Patient and Resources Flow

Policy Title: Suction (Wall Piped Vacuum) Outage – Perioperative Areas
Policy Number: 2.3.10

Approval committees: Surgical Services Policy and Procedure Committee; UW Health Clinical Policy
UW Health Clinical Policy Committee Approval: July 18, 2016

UW Health is a cohesive, united and integrated academic medical enterprise comprised of several entities.
This policy applies to facilities and programs operated by the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics
and the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, Inc., and to clinical facilities and programs
administered by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Each entity is
responsible for enforcement of this policy in relation to the facilities and programs that it operates.


Peter Newcomer, MD
UW Health Chief Medical Officer

J. Scott McMurray, MD
Chair, UW Health Clinical Policy Committee


Appendix: Alternate Vacuum Sources in the Operating Rooms

Version: Revision
Next Revision Due: August 2019
Formerly Known as: Surgical Services departmental policy #4.06