The ECMO Dilemma

Although US, hospitals largely got ahead of the well-documented ventilator shortage, many patients died because they couldn’t get an ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
The bedside device allows the lungs or heart to rest by adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the blood, then pumps it back to the patient.
But it takes intensive one-on-one nursing and is offered at less than 10% of US hospitals, and even less elsewhere. Some 8,000 patients have received an ECMO in this pandemic—5,000 of them in North America.
In the US, a lack of regional sharing systems meant a chaotic rationing system took hold, allowing geography and even family lobbying to influence ECMO care.
The New York Times

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