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Safer Care Victoria is supporting the Department of Health and Human Services to implement a new way to treat critically ill Victorians, through a statewide model for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

ECMO gives temporary life-support for critically ill patients with reversible acute respiratory and cardiac failure, and patients requiring a ‘bridge’ to transplantation. It is a high-risk procedure that requires highly skilled and experienced clinicians. It is not a common procedure but can be lifesaving.

The case for change

We undertook a volume-outcomes review and found the hospitals that manage more ECMO patients, have better outcomes and survival rates.

The review recommends we limit ECMO to some accredited hospitals, in order to increase volume of patients and improve outcomes.

This means that for the first time, a statewide retrieval and referral network will be used to transfer patients to hospitals that have the capacity and experience to provide ECMO safely.


Through 2019-20, we will continue to work on implementing our recommendations for ECMO. Over the year, we will be embarking on a number of projects that will support the new model.

Read about our Critical Care Clinical Network ECMO project

If you’d like to work with Safer Care Victoria on any of the topics in the table below, please get in touch with us. 

Deliverable Summary    Proposed release date
Patient eligibility criteria for ECMO A clear, agreed, set of clinical indications to advise clinicians on when and when not to initiate ECMO Late 2019
Hospital accreditation criteria A summary of the minimum requirements expected from health services to provide ECMO, including; initiation sites, intermediate ECMO centres or comprehensive ECMO centres Late 2019 
24-hr consultation service requirements A process model that coordinates referral, retrieval and bed management Mid-Late 2019
Performance reporting of ECMO quality and safety The introduction of performance metrics for statewide and health service ECMO outcomes Early 2020
Research into the demand for ECMO   A retrospective cohort study to establish any unmet demand for ECMO and projections of future growth in demand for ECMO once the new model is fully implemented Late 2020


Over 2018, the Critical Care Clinical Network gathered interested parties together to discuss the delivery of ECMO in Victoria. Supported by a reference group, the sector provided recommendations for the future direction of ECMO delivery.

Get in touch

Ralph Tramm
ECMO Senior Project Officer
Safer Care Victoria
03 9096 8654

Page last updated: 12 Jun 2019

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