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ECMO program recognized as Center of Excellence (Platinum Level)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Ira Chiefetz

Duke University Hospital has received a platinum level award for Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO).

The award, presented Sept. 17 in San Diego, CA, recognized excellence in Duke's Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program, which is used to treat patients with life-threatening heart and/or lung problems. The platinum level Center of Excellence distinction is the highest level of excellence by ELSO, and Duke is one of five programs worldwide to be recognized at the platinum level.

ECMO is used as a last resort support system for the lungs or heart, supporting patients for days or even weeks while doctors treat their illness. Duke's ECMO program supports neonates through adults across all specialties, keeping patients who are experiencing respiratory or cardiac failure in a stable condition. New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia Medical Center was the only other neonatal through adult ECMO center from the US to achieve platinum level designation.

"ECMO does not intrinsically fix anything," said Ira Cheifetz, MD, FCCM, FAARC, chief of the division of Pediatric Care Medicine and director of the ECMO program at Duke Children's. "It's a 'bridge.' Most of the time it is a bridge to recovery. This life-saving technology allows time for a patient's lungs to recover."

Duke University Hospital's ECMO program meets or exceeds all of the survival to discharge percentage benchmarks established by the ELSO international registry. According to ELSO, a designated Center of Excellence has demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the following categories:

  • Excellence in promoting the mission, activities and vision of ELSO.
  • Excellence in patient care by using the highest quality measures, processes and structures based upon evidence.
  • Excellence in training, education, collaboration and communication supporting ELSO guidelines that contributes to a healing environment for families, patients and staff.

“This award is an affirmation of the hard work that the ECMO team and key support staff has done, and continues to do daily, to achieve our goal of providing the best possible care to improve outcomes for our patients and their families,” says Ann M. Reed, MD, William Cleland Professor of Pediatrics and chair of the Department of Pediatrics. "Please join me in congratulating the Duke Children's ECMO team on this remarkable achievement."