Stephens AL, Bruce CR. Setting Expectations for ECMO: Improving Communication Between Clinical Teams and Decision Makers. Methodist DeBakey Cardiovasc J. 2018;14(2):120-125.doi: 10.14797/mdcj-14-2-120
Transplant medicine is fraught with clinical–ethical issues. It is not uncommon to have ethicists on transplant teams to help navigate ethically complex cases and ethical questions. Clinical ethicists work in hospitals and/or other healthcare institutions identifying and addressing value-laden conflict and ethical uncertainties.
As ethicists, we set out to describe our process and involvement in cases involving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Our work centers on monitoring and optimizing communication among clinicians, families, and patients, with the goals of (1) aligning patient/family understanding of the nature and purpose of ECMO while encouraging realistic expectations for possible outcomes, and (2) proactively mitigating the moral distress of providers involved in complex ECMO cases. We close with recommendations for how to measure the impact of ethicists’ involvement in ECMO cases.Keywords
decision making , extracorporeal membrane oxygenation , ECMO , ethics , end of life , mechanical circulatory support