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The ECMO Team

The ECMO team consists of heart surgeons, critical care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, perfusionists (those who ensure that the ECMO circuit works properly), the ECMO coordinator, ECMO specialist nurses, respiratory and physical therapists, case managers, and social workers. The ECMO team members work together to provide the best possible care to your loved one.

HEART SURGEONS: These physicians will place and remove the cannulas (thin tubes) needed for ECMO. They work with the critical care team in providing care to your loved one.

CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIAN: A physician who is trained in caring for patients in an intensive care unit. He/ she is also trained to care for patients on ECMO.

PERFUSIONIST: A licensed perfusionist is trained in the management and operation of the ECMO circuit. The perfusionist will prepare the circuit and tubing to help the surgeons place the patient on ECMO. If there are problems with the ECMO circuit, the perfusionist will assess and correct them.

ECMO COORDINATOR: A Registered Nurse assisting in the daily operation of the ECMO circuit and acting as a liaison between the patient’s family and the care providers. Responsible for the daily operation and maintenance of the ECMO circuit.

PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT OR NURSE PRACTITIONER: These clinicians are trained to take care of patients on ECMO, assisting the physicians in the intensive care unit (ICU).

ECMO SPECIALIST: A registered critical care nurse who is specifically-trained in the care of ECMO patients.

RESPIRATORY THERAPIST: A caregiver who specializes in treating patients with breathing problems. The respiratory therapist uses lung treatments to help the patient breathe. These therapists are responsible, along with the rest of the ECMO team, to manage the breathing machine (ventilator).

CASE MANAGER: The case manager will work with you and your loved one to find an appropriate rehabilitation center. Most patients will not be able to immediately return home after their stay in the hospital. Rehabilitation centers help patients gain their strength so they can return home.

SOCIAL WORKER: The social worker specializes in helping families cope with the feelings and experiences of having a loved one in the hospital. He/she can assist you with any special arrangements you may need.

CHAPLAIN: The chaplain provides spiritual support and can help to identify a clergy member of the patient’s faith to better meet his/her religious needs