Extracorporeal Life Support: RN Management of ECMO Patients

Part of AACN Critical Care Webinar Series

Presenter(s): Michael G Petty, PhD, RN, APRN, ACNS-BC, CCNS

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Webinar Summary

When your patient’s heart or lungs are failing and need more than mechanical ventilation, extracorporeal life support (ECLS) can take over long enough for them to heal or undergo required procedures. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is one form of ECLS to help patients whose lungs are unable to adequately oxygenate their body even with supplemental oxygen or removal of carbon dioxide. Since its introduction over 30 years ago, ECLS/ECMO has been refined and its outcomes have improved in adults treated with this therapy. Successfully managing the care of these highly complex, resource-intensive patients requires knowledge of their unique clinical needs and associated interventions, including continuous circuit surveillance, assessment, troubleshooting and preventing and managing emergencies. This webinar presentation will explore current ECLS/ECMO applications in adults, nursing interventions specific to caring for ECLS/ECMO patients and outcomes of patients supported with this therapy.


  • Distinguish the indications for venovenous ECLS from those for venoarterial ECLS.
  • Describe the physiology associated with gas exchange in the ECLS circuit.
  • Identify at least three critical nursing observations to facilitate early identification of complications of ECLS therapy.


Michael G Petty, PhD, RN, APRN, ACNS-BC, CCNS

Michael G Petty, PhD, RN, APRN, ACNS-BC, CCNS

Michael Petty, a cardiothoracic and solid organ transplant clinical nurse specialist at University of Minnesota Health, has more than 35 years of critical care nursing experience. Much of his focus and interest during that time has been in the care of patients with cardiovascular disorders requiring medical, surgical and/or transplant interventions. In his current CNS role, Petty supports nurses and healthcare team members caring for patients on extracorporeal life support (ECLS) by providing education, clinical consultation, and order set development/modification and policies to promote best practice. He has participated in a heart transplant-related clinical trial funded through the National Institutes of Health and received the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Hero Award for Medical Professionals (2015).

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.

Refund Policy

Continuing Education Activities are nonrefundable.