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CJEM. 2017 Nov;19(6):424-433. doi: 10.1017/cem.2017.376. Epub 2017 Aug 16.

A comprehensive regional clinical and educational ECPR protocol decreases time to ECMO in patients with refractory out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

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*St. Paul's Hospital,Vancouver,BC.
†Department of Emergency Medicine,University of British Columbia,Vancouver,BC.
††British Columbia Emergency Health Services,Vancouver,BC.



Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation within CPR (ECPR) may improve survival for refractory out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). We developed a prehospital, emergency department (ED), and hospital-based clinical and educational protocol to improve the key variable of time-to-ECPR (TTE).


In a single urban health region we involved key prehospital, clinical, and administrative stakeholders over a 2-year period, to develop a regional ECPR program with destination to a single urban tertiary care hospital. We developed clear and reproducible inclusion criteria and processes, including measures of program efficiency. We conducted seminars and teaching modules to paramedics and hospital-based clinicians including monthly simulator sessions, and performed detailed reviews of each treated case in the form of report cards. In this before-and-after study we compared patients with ECPR attempted prior to, and after, protocol implementation. The primary outcome was TTE, defined as the time of initial professional CPR to establishment of extracorporeal circulation. We compared the median TTE for patients in the two groups using the Wilcoxon signed rank test.


Four patients were identified prior to the protocol and managed in an ad hoc basis; for nine patients the protocol was utilized. Overall favourable neurological outcomes among ECPR-treated patients were 27%. The median TTE was 136 minutes (IQR 98 - 196) in the pre-protocol group, and 60 minutes (IQR 49 - 81) minutes in the protocol group (p=0.0165).


An organized clinical and educational protocol to initiate ECPR for patients with OHCA is feasible and significantly reduces the key benchmark of time-to-ECPR flows.


cardiopulmonary resuscitation; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; heart arrest

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