2 - Qatar Critical Care Conference Proceedings
  • ISSN: 0253-8253
  • EISSN: 2227-0426


Starting a new extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program requires synergizing different organizational aspects and extensive training of a core team to deliver care safely.1,2 Sidra Medicine, a newly opened facility in Qatar, started accepting acute inpatients and activated its ECMO program in 2018. The aim of this quality review is to evaluate the training of ECMO Specialists through benchmarking our ECMO program mechanical complications to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) data. The hospital trained ECMO Specialists (experts and novices) come from different parts of the world with varying degrees of knowledge and experience and use a comprehensive training program based on the ELSO guidelines for ECMO training and continuous education.3 This program was delivered over a two-year period to all ECMO team members and included: multiple conferences on key ECMO topics; basic wet labs and emergency drills including the change of different components, and; immersive simulation-based training (SBT) on a modified neonatal manikin (Figures 1 and 2). These face to face interactions, in small groups, with different critical scenarios were followed by debriefing.4,5 SBT sessions started before the opening of the acute unit and continued after the acceptance of the first ECMO patient. Immersive SBT sessions occur monthly and include minor and major troubleshooting, de-airing, priming, circuit change, oxygen failure, pump failure, and other problems that can be encountered during ECMO runs.

All ECMO Specialists, both experts and novices, completed a full ECMO training program and had gone through the Sidra ECMO certification examination before handling ECMO patients. They were evaluated and certified using a checklist assessment tool and with skills having to be demonstrated competently by the candidates. Novice clinicians were initially ECMO bedside nurses and as they became familiar with the ECMO daily routine and learned the protocols and policies, they started caring for patients as ECMO Specialists.

We retrospectively reviewed collected data of technical complications for the 13 patients who have received ECMO therapy since program activation. We analyzed ECMO mechanical complications and benchmarked them with ELSO registry data in corresponding categories to evaluate the training of ECMO specialists and our ECMO program infrastructure. The Sidra ECMO program has now trained a total of 20 ECMO Specialists (experts and novices). Out of the 13 novice clinicians who volunteered to be trained, 8 successfully became ECMO Specialists.

There has been a total of 13 patients on ECMO (Table 1). One of these was the first successful neonatal respiratory ECMO patient in Qatar. Over the 13 cases, minor mechanical complications and usual circuit clots were experienced. There was no pump failure or oxygenator failure encountered. SBT is a valuable ECMO educational approach. It offers the opportunity to practice technical skills repeatedly and to become proficient in high-risk/low frequency events while avoiding harm to patients. Using consistent and continuous training is the key for the success of the ECMO Specialist's model. This is a limited study due to the low number of patients, but as ECMO is a low-volume/high-risk procedure, it still highlights the benefits of simulation in establishing new ECMO programs.


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