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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) gives temporary life-support for critically ill patients with reversible acute respiratory and cardiac failure, and patients requiring a ‘bridge’ to transplantation.

It is a high-risk procedure that requires highly skilled and experienced clinicians. It is not a common procedure but can be lifesaving.

This project:

  • delivered clinician-informed recommendations to establish a tiered, networked accredited statewide ECMO service
  • standardised advice and referral processes, and criteria for clearer decision making and appropriate use of ECMO
  • developed accreditation guidance for Victorian intensive care units regarding ECMO training and models of care.


Review of safety outcomes

We undertook a volume-outcomes review and found the hospitals that manage more ECMO patients, have better outcomes and survival rates. 

The review recommended we limit ECMO to some accredited hospitals, in order to increase volume of patients and improve outcomes.

A new statewide model for ECMO

We developed a new delivery model and provided DHHS with our recommendations to implement. 

This new model means that for the first time, a statewide retrieval and referral network will be used to transfer patients to hospitals that have the capacity and experience to provide ECMO safely.

Read the report

Safer Care Victoria is supporting the Department of Health and Human Services to implement a new way to treat critically ill Victorians.


Increase in the safety and timeliness of ECMO care in Victoria.


  • 100% of recommended eligibility criteria for initiating ECMO, ongoing management and weaning ensure equitable access for all Victorians
  • 100% of recommended accreditation and training requirements for participating hospitals incorporate best practice and international standards
  • 100% of Victorian clinicians could access and use the model designed for consultation, retrieval, transfer and bed management.

Get in touch

Centre of Clinical Excellence - Acute
Safer Care Victoria
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