Vital Updates: The ECLS Conference


IMG_3063I’m in Keystone Colorado – attending the 31st Annual CHNS Symposium on “ECMO and the Advanced Therapies for Respiratory Failure Conference”. While the conference has many competing distractions (skiing anyone?) the chance to hear the latest information that leading ECLS Centers and experts are presenting here is too vital to miss.

Very often I hear; “Is it really necessary to attend outside continuing education? Will it really help my clinical practice?” The answer? Yes! The chance to hear the current status of patient care, or what are large ECLS Centers doing with novel patient populations, or how have things changed in providing bedside care is rare. Not only are you able to listen to the lectures; you are able to hear and participate in the discussions, hear others experiences and perhaps even speak directly to the presenters. These opportunities are valuable! For example, anticoagulation is a HUGE topic in ECLS – how to, when to, why to – are all questions that asked repeatedly in just about every ECMO program, and there are still no specific answers. The use of antithrombin III – perhaps your ECMO program is considering using it? At this meeting, a review of the use of ATIII in patients was presented. A review of the literature with specific findings of its’ impact was discussed. The lecture included a comprehensive overview of the differences between human plasma antithrombin versus recombinant antithrombin; with costs, dosages and testing described. You could have researched and detailed all this information yourself, and perhaps come to a conclusion about how you wish to implement this into your practice. But having the opportunity to listen to a lecture and hear the discussion generated at the end offers a completely different perspective. What if you already had some basic ideas about what you wanted to do? Then you could talk not only to the expert lecturer, but also to many other ECMO programs and gather their specific protocols and experience. That type of ‘immediate education’ is incredibly efficient!

Which brings up Networking. Extracorporeal life support is a very dynamic field. Every patient affords a learning occasion. Issues are discovered for the very first time or incidents that have never arisen before may happen. Attending a conference that specializes in ECMO allows practitioners a real-time moment for discussion about your particular patient. Experts in the field are readily available and willing to talk about anything you might want to. Perhaps the issue or event that happened in your institution is new and with your experience you may help another ECMO center in the future. Which is what ECLS conferences are all about – leaning how to provide the best possible care we can to our patients.

If you are new to the field of ECLS – Welcome! The group of professionals you now belong to is amazing! If you haven’t been to an ECMO conference yet – you should! Come meet others who share your new passion and perhaps pick up a few new tidbits of information to take back to your home ECMO Center to share and discuss. You’ll make some new friends that will be life-long. You will discover a fraternity of medical professionals unlike any other! If you’re not sure when and where the next conference is – visit There is a complete listing of all upcoming meetings. I hope to see you at the next one!