Speech‑Language Pathologists (SLPs) provide diagnostic and treatment services that may call for the use of tracheal suctioning. For example, during clinical swallowing evaluations and during tracheal occlusion activities, the patient may need to be suctioned as part of the procedure.
Tracheal suctioning is defined as passing a suction catheter into a tracheostomy cannula to remove excess secretions from the airway.
It is the position of the Maryland Board of Examiners that the use of tracheal suctioning by speech‑language pathologists is within the Speech‑Language Pathology Scope of Practice when used to complete such procedures. The following Guidelines have been adopted by the Board for speech‑language pathologists to consider when using tracheal suctioning:
- Speech Language Pathologists should check facility policies to ensure that they may perform tracheal suctioning.
- The Speech Language Pathologists should undergo competency training in tracheal suctioning from a respiratory therapist or registered nurse. It is recommended that such training be documented in the Speech Language Pathologist's personnel file and be updated annually.
- Speech Language Pathologists should only perform tracheal suctioning that is required to complete a speech‑language pathology diagnostic and/or treatment procedures.
- Speech Language Pathologists should ensure that nursing and/or medical personnel are available, if needed, when performing tracheal suctioning.
- Speech Language Pathologists should be aware of hazards associated with tracheal suctioning including trauma, laryngospasm, infection, hypoxia, etc.
- Speech Language Pathologists should review relevant scope of practice documents, position statements, and related ethics issues prior to incorporating tracheal suctioning into their practice.