Early Guided Palliative Care Communication for Patients With COVID -19 Receiving ECMO and Their Families

Author(s): Safanah Siddiqui, MD, Gabriel Lutz, MD, PhD, Ali Tabatabai, MD, Rachel Nathan, MD, Megan Anders, MD, MS, Miranda Gibbons, BS, Marguerite Russo, PhD, CRNP, Sarah Whitehead, CRNP, Peter Rock, MD, MBA, Thomas Scalea, MD, and Raya E. Kheirbek, MD, MPH

Contact Hours 1.00

CERP B 1.00

Expires May 01, 2026

Topics: Communication, COVID-19, Family-Centered Care, Pulmonary

Population: Geriatric, Adult

Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

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Activity Summary

Required reading for all learners: Implicit Bias impacts patient outcomes

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is used as a bridge to recovery in patients with acute reversible conditions, to transplantation in patients with irreversible cardiac or respiratory failure, and to ventricular assist device therapy in some patients with cardiac failure. The World Health Organization has recommended considering the use of ECMO for patients with COVID-19 hypoxemia refractory to mechanical ventilatory support. Given the critical frailty of patients who require the complex support that ECMO provides, realistically managing families’ expectations for potential recovery can be difficult. This difficulty increases as time passes for patients receiving ECMO whose clinical status fails to improve. Palliative care supports seriously ill patients and their families with high-level communication and symptom management skills. Studies have shown that palliative care consultation improves the quality and quantity of communication with family members.


  • Highlight a range of experiences related to COVID-19.
  • Identify palliative care as a tool to educate families on the benefits and limitations of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
  • Describe the benefits of open and honest communication with patients’ families.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


This activity has been reviewed by the Nurse Planner. It has been determined that the material presented here shows no bias. No conflicts of interest have been identified for any individual with the ability to influence the content of this activity. Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing education only and does not imply AACN or ANCC approval or endorsement of any commercial products discussed or displayed in conjunction with this educational activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation, ANCC Provider Number 0012. AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing (CBRN), California Provider number CEP 1036. This activity is approved for 1.00 contact hours.

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.

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