Miracle Medical Machine ECMO Makes Heroic Rescues, however Leaves Patients In Limbo

Miracle Medical Machine ECMO Makes Heroic Rescues, however Leaves Patients In Limbo
The latest miracle machine in trendy drugs – World Health Organizationse use has skyrocketed in recent years – is saving folks from the brink of death: adults whose lungs are ravaged by the flu; a driver who was cornered underwater associate degree exceedingly|in a very} crash; a person whose heart had stopped operating for an astonishing seven hours.

But for every adult saved by this machine – dubbed ECMO, for extracorporeal membrane natural action – another adult attached to the instrumentation dies within the hospital. For those patients, the intervention could be a terribly costly, effortful and unsuccessful effort to cheat death.

ECMO, the foremost aggressive kind of life support on the market, pumps blood out of the body, oxygenates it and returns it to the body, keeping an individual alive for days, weeks or months, even once their heart or lungs do not work.

The invention is making “an entirely new paradigm,” said Dr. Kenneth Prager, director of clinical ethics at Columbia University Irving middle. “You have a heart that is not operating, however the patient isn’t dead.”

Most commonly used for newborns, ECMO use has been growing dramatically among adults. within the u. s., procedures tripled from 2008 to 2014, up to associate degree calculable half-dozen,890, consistent with the office for attention analysis and Quality.

Experts caution that as ECMO becomes a lot of on the market, it’s conjointly getting used as a ultimate arrange to obtain longer for dying patients with poor probabilities of survival.

ECMO isn’t designed to be a destination, however a bridge to somewhere – recovery, transplantation or associate degree established heart device. however once patients square measure too sick to succeed in those goals, ECMO will become a “bridge to obscurity,” going the patient in limbo, presumably even awake and alert, however with no likelihood of survival outside the medical care unit. Medical groups and families are often ferociously divided over once to drag the plug.

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ECMO is incredibly costly, principally because of the labor involved: an individual on ECMO cannot live outside the ICU and should be ceaselessly monitored for complications, like blood clots, bleeding, infection and loss of blood to the limbs. Median charges for ECMO in 2014 were $550,000, creating it the 15th-most-costly procedure that year, consistent with the AHRQ.

In one recent case, a teaching hospital charged $4.2 million for a 60-day ECMO keep for a 19-year-old man with acute metabolic process distress syndrome World Health Organization was comatose the whole time and failed to survive, consistent with Dr. Merrit Quarum, chief operating officer and founding father of WellRithms, a cost-containment company. Quarum aforementioned a self-insured health set up is covering the bill.

The number of U.S. hospitals providing ECMO has over doubled from 108 in 2008 to 264 nowadays, consistent with a register surpass the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), that tracks most however not all programs.

“In the u. s., the competition between hospitals is therefore intense that each hospital needs the power to supply this level of care,” aforementioned sexy Bartilson, president of the ECMO Advantage house.

But “as ECMO expands, there is still heaps of places that also do not totally perceive what it will do and the way to use it,” he said.

Four patient stories highlight the promise – and complexities – of this game-changing technology.

Updated: June 20, 2019 — 3:02 pm

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