Implementing an Adult Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

The American journal of nursing


texas; covenant; covid-19; Humans; Adult; COVID-19; Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation; Pandemics; Critical Care; Patient Discharge; Retrospective Studies


BACKGROUND: In response to the needs of patients infected with COVID-19, an interdisciplinary team was assembled to implement an adult extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program in the surgical ICU of a West Texas tertiary care hospital. Use of Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) guidelines was essential to the development of this effort.

AIM: The aim of this project was to develop, implement, and evaluate an adult ECMO program.

METHODS: A logic model was used in designing and evaluating the adult ECMO program. A 35-hour ECMO specialist training course was developed, and training began in August 2020, a month before implementation of the project began. Patient outcomes were measured between September 2020 and December 2021. Descriptive statistics were used to measure the clinical outcomes of interest.

RESULTS: Seventeen newly trained ECMO specialists included experienced critical care nurses and respiratory therapists. Protocols were developed for the initiation of ECMO, and tracked patient outcomes included survival off ECMO, survival to discharge, major and minor complications, and length of stay. Nine patients had COVID-19 and demonstrated an 11.11% mortality rate after adult ECMO program implementation.

CONCLUSIONS: Use of the ELSO professional guidelines to design and develop this project led to the achievement of a sustainable ECMO program. Hospital leaders can now implement adult ECMO programs amid other demands for resources that may be created by future pandemics.


Infectious Diseases


Critical Care Medicine