Survival Outcomes Following the Use of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation as a Rescue Technology in Critically Ill Patients: Results From Pennsylvania 2007–2015

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To examine real-world outcomes of survival, length of stay, and discharge destination, among all adult extracorporeal membrane oxygenation admissions in one state over nearly a decade.


Retrospective analysis of administrative discharge data.


State-wide administrative discharge data from Pennsylvania between 2007 and 2015.


All 2,948 consecutive patients billed under a Diagnosis-Related Grouper 3 grouper and in whom a procedural code for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was present, admitted between the beginning of 2007 and the end of 2015 to hospitals regulated by the state of Pennsylvania. Admitting diagnoses were coded as respiratory, cardiac, cardiac arrest, or uncategorized based on administrative data.

Measurements and Main Results:

Unadjusted in-hospital mortality, length of stay, and discharge destination. Summary statistics and tests of differences by age 65 years or older and by admitting diagnosis were performed. Outcomes by age were plotted using running-mean smoothed graphs. Over the 9-year period, the average observed death rate was 51.7%. Among all survivors, 14.6% went home to self-care and a further 15.2% to home health care. Of all survivors, 43.8% were readmitted within 1 month, and 60.6% within 1 year. Among elderly survivors, readmission rates were 52.3% and 65.5% within 1 month and 1 year, respectively. The likelihood of dying in-hospital increased with age that of being discharged home or to postacute care decreased.


In a “usual clinical practice” setting, short-term outcomes are similar to those observed in clinical trials such as Conventional Ventilation or ECMO for Severe Adult Respiratory Failure, in registries such as extracorporeal life support organization, and in smaller single-site studies. More data on longer term follow-up are needed to allow clinicians to better inform patient selection and care.

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