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Ventricular Assist Devices: What Intensive Care Unit Nurses Need to Know About Postoperative Management

Author(s): Genevieve O’Shea, RN, BN, CCRN-CSC-CMC

Contact Hours: 1.00

CERP A: 1.00

Pharmacology Hours: 0.50

Expires Mar 01, 2017

Topics: Cardiovascular, Pharmacology

Population: Adult

Role: APRN, Staff

Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

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Activity Summary

Patients with advanced heart failure have limited treatment options despite advances in medical management. Ventricular assist devices represent a surgical option that offers improved end-organ function, survival, and quality of life. Postoperative nursing management involves the most complicated aspects of care following cardiac surgery as well as issues unique to advanced heart failure and mechanical circulatory support. Despite growing numbers of ventricular assist device implants, literature about the challenging care of patients following ventricular assist device implantation is limited. This article focuses on the physiological basis for postoperative nursing management strategies and the most important complications of which critical care nurses need to be aware.


  • Discuss the role of ventricular assist devices in the treatment of patients with end-stage heart failure.
  • Differentiate between pulsatile and nonpulsatile pumps.
  • Recognize the potential complications associated with ventricular assist device implantation.

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. Approval of a continuing education activity does not imply endorsement by AACN or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with the activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation. ANCC Provider Number 0012 (60 min contact hour). AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing California Provider number CEP01036 contact hours (50 min contact hour).

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