Piedmont Healthcare is participating in a large international clinical trial to study the effects of ventilation and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO, in the critical care setting on patients suffering from the combination of COVID-19 and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

ECMO is a medical device that is used to support patients whose heart and lungs require additional assistance to function, similar to putting a patient on bypass during open-heart surgery.

The trial is based out of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, where the local primary investigators are Peter Barrett, M.D., director of Piedmont’s ECMO program and medical director of the Cardiac Critical Care Units, and David Dean, M.D., surgical director for heart transplant and mechanical circulatory support. The study began in Australia and has come to encompass more than 300 sites in nearly 50 countries. In the United States, 200 participants will be enrolled in the study, which began March 1. The study is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31. To be eligible for the study, patients must have a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection with ARDS and require ECMO.

“The pulmonary/critical care and cardiovascular groups at Piedmont have been on the forefront of providing innovative treatments for COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic,” Dr. Barrett said. “We are hopeful that the data we are collecting as part of this study will help to improve protocols for COVID-19 patients across the country and will help to improve their clinical outcomes.”

The primary outcome measure of the study is in-hospital mortality. Secondary measures include:

•Death on ECMO


•Blood stream infection

•Lung complications requiring surgical treatment

•Blood transfusion

•Acute kidney injury

•Length of ICU stay

•Death after hospital discharge

“Piedmont has found high survival rates for its COVID-19 patients on ECMO, with 18 of 22 recovering,” said Piedmont officials.


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