Is it Worth Developing a formal ECMO Program?

We are often faced with institutions trying to determine if it is worth developing a formal ECMO Program.  Many institutions have been “doing ECMO” for many years but are now considering formalizing their program and processes.  But the expense to do this could be significant.  So is it worth the effort and expense?  One could argue that if your outcomes are good the way you have always been doing it, then why change?  Some institutions recognize that maybe their outcomes aren’t what they want them to be and are committed to improving those outcomes through formalizing their ECMO program.

So what is involved in “formalizing” an ECMO Program that makes such a difference?  I would submit that there are several important factors that will significantly improve your ECMO patient care by formalizing your ECMO program.  ELSO (Extracorporeal Life Support Organization) has published a set of guidelines that highlight how to create a formal ECMO program and achieve the benefit of a formal program.  ECMO Advantage has assisted many institutions walk through the process of building a Formal ECMO Program.  We have seen the many benefits from the result of the processes involved in creating a formal program to include:

  • Formal hospital administration understanding and support for resources required for an ECMO program
  • Formal development and acceptance of Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria
  • Formal development and acceptance of ECMO Policies and Procedures
  • Formal assignment of ECMO Leadership roles such as ECMO Medical Director(s), ECMO Coordinator(s), ECMO Specialists
  • Development of a Multidisciplinary ECMO Team
  • Formal ECMO Training for all healthcare professionals caring for the ECMO patient

Recently, I came across this article entitled The effect of multidisciplinary extracorporeal membrane oxygenation team on clinical outcomes in patients with severe acute respiratory failure published in the Annals of Intensive Care, Dec 2018.  Na, S.J., Chung, C.R., Choi, H.J. et al. Ann. Intensive Care (2018) 8: 31.  The article reports a significant benefit in patient outcomes after formalizing their multidisciplinary ECMO team.

We would encourage institutions to take the time and effort to formalize their ECMO Program and allow their patients the Advantage of a formal program with formal structure and formal training as described in the ELSO Guidelines.   ECMO Advantage would be honored to help your institution step through this process in a timely and cost-effective manner allowing your team the ability to offer your patients the ECMO Advantage.  Contact us if we can be of assistance!