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Top Ways to Support Perfusionists

By Kiele Hayes Rigaud24 May 2023

As key members of the cardiovascular team, perfusionists play a life-supporting role in keeping oxygenated blood flowing for patients during cardiac surgeries and other procedures.

Their work operating extracorporeal circulation equipment, like heart-lung machines and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines, is critical to patient well-being and overall procedure success. As such, it’s a job that comes with significant challenges and stresses – particularly when working with pediatric patients.

Perfusionists are highly trained, highly skilled medical professionals, well-prepared for the job at hand. That said, there are ways that healthcare organizations and hospitals can continue to support perfusionists to ensure their ongoing success.

From providing the latest technology to fostering a supportive work environment, here are the most important elements to keep in mind.

Perfusion Tools & Technology

The types of cardiac surgeries and other procedures that require a perfusionist’s expertise are delicate, intricate operations. Perfusionists working in these situations benefit significantly from access to the latest technology and equipment that increases efficiency.

Transonic’s Extracorporeal Life Support Assurance (ELSA) Monitor helps optimize ECMO therapy by providing accurate and timely flow measurement thanks to ultrasound indicator dilution and transit-time ultrasound.

Even the best ECMO oxygenators have a tendency to clot. It can be challenging to identify the underlying amount of clotting because of limited visibility. Additionally, there is great variance in clot formation.

The ELSA monitor trends Oxgenator blood volume (OXBV) with standard ultrasound flow/dilution technology and an infusion of a single bolus of room temperature saline into the circuit.

As clots form within the oxygenator, the circulating blood volume – at any given timepoint – decreases. The trending of this quantitative assessment of oxygenator blood volume can be used by clinicians to recognize diminished oxygenator performance potentially caused by clotting within the circuit.

Quantifying diminished oxygenator performance allows the clinician to have qualitative information for evaluation and potentially a wider window of opportunity to perform change-outs.

Providing medical professionals with state-of-the-art perfusion equipment like Transonic’s ELSA monitor provides perfusionists with quantitative data thereby reducing reliance on subjective information.

Recognition and Rewards

Finally, don’t forget the power of recognition.

Perfusionists play a vital role in ensuring the success of cardiac surgeries and other medical procedures. The shortage of medical professionals continues to be an ongoing issue in hospitals across the United States, which often leads to increased workloads and higher levels of burnout.

Acknowledging and rewarding the contributions of perfusionists to the cardiovascular surgical team can go a long way in boosting morale and motivation.

Training and Professional Development

Keeping up with the latest in perfusion technology takes time and effort – it’s not something that simply occurs by accident. Providing access to training sessions, conferences and other career enrichment opportunities can help keep perfusionists equipped with skills and knowledge.

These types of opportunities are also an important part of fostering an environment that encourages continuous learning and improvement, which is key for attracting and retaining top perfusionist talent.

Learn more about how the ELSA Monitor can help support perfusionists in your healthcare organization.

Learn Why Every Pediatrics Unit Needs ELSA for ECMO Support