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Plans in place to counter critical shortage of cardiac supplies

8 June 2023

Queensland Health is actively managing the impact of global supply shortages of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and intra-aortic balloon (IAB) catheter products.

ECMO machines are used to treat some patients with critical heart and lungs conditions.

An IAB catheter connects to a mechanical pump used to treat critically ill patients to improve and preserve cardiac function and may be used in the treatment of unstable angina, heart attack, heart failure and heart defects.

In response to the worldwide supply shortage, Queensland Health’s critical supply working groups are conducting regular statewide audits of both products.

Deputy Director-General of Queensland Health’s Clinical Excellence Division Dr Helen Brown said the global shortage of ECMO circuits was particularly concerning.

“ECMOs are highly specialised pieces of technology but they are critical to providing care for very serious heart and lung conditions,” Dr Brown said.

“We are urgently seeking alternative supply options. Our critical supply working group has put in place plans to facilitate product sharing between hospitals, develop strategies to preserve stocks, and prioritise patients to receive ECMO treatment where supplies are low.

“We are working with impacted health services, particularly our critical care and cardiac networks, to keep them informed of these issues.

“We are also working closely with the TGA and suppliers on a national approach to the allocation of these ECMO circuits.

“The shortages of both ECMO components and IAB catheter consumables are having an impact on many, many health jurisdictions across the world but I can assure our patients we are working hard to find a solution.”

On average, between four and eight ECMO circuits are used each week in Queensland hospitals.

Public hospitals across the state use around 15-20 IAB catheters a month.

Last updated: 8 June 2023