Bypass pump prime volume

The need for perfusion services is rising due to the decrease of available perfusionists and the expanded uses of ECMO. But how do you ensure that you have the right clinicians and staffing protocol to handle the demand? 

There are many factors that go into identifying the right number of perfusionists to staff your program including heart volume, surgical schedules, emergent procedures, number of surgeons, and operating rooms. If staffing levels are less than optimal consequences will become apparent. 

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Understaffing negatively affects a hospital’s ability to meet patient needs, risking harm to your reputation. It also carries several hidden costs. Under-staffing can lead to decreased:

  1. Surgeon Satisfaction: From the most complex cases to the most routine, your surgeons rely on highly proficient support to promote better outcomes. Perfusionists who successfully engage and exceed surgeons’ expectations also drive surgeon satisfaction, physician retention, and OR volume.
  2. Perfusionist Morale: Hospitals with in-house teams may be strained to cover basic cases when their people need well-earned vacations, and many organizations are making contingency plans for when current staff retire. 
  3. Growth Opportunity: Specialties such as patient blood management, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), destination therapy programs, and intraperitoneal hyperthermia can broaden and deepen the scope of patient care.
  4. Financial Performance: Your program assessment should include the costs associated with scheduling, including the inability to schedule because of insufficient coverage. Losing top surgeons due to staffing support can significantly impact the bottom line as well.

Over-staffing brings an increase in costs, but not always a corresponding increase in efficiency or quality. 

Often, hospitals do not realize that they are overstaffed until it is too late. Unfortunately, if you have to lay people off, it can have a negative effect on morale. However, before you proceed with any solutions to fix overstaffing, you need to figure out if you are truly overstaffed, or just experiencing a temporary slow-down. If a surgeon has retired or moved on, identify if you are recruiting a new cardiothoracic surgeon to replace volume. Find areas where perfusionists can provide additional help including ECMO cases and non-cardiac autotransfusion. 

Managing a perfusion program can be expensive, time-consuming, and hard to staff for a hospital.

Even for an in-house program include the direct costs of salaries, benefits, expenses, and call pay, as well as the indirect costs of human resources and managerial oversight, including recruitment, scheduling, and other activities. However, surgical leaders are facing a very real threat in their ability to recruit and retain the perfusion staff who provide cardiac and other support services.

Common barriers hospitals face when seeking to attract talent include:

  1. Location Issues: Hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to bring in specialty positions when they are not in popular communities or metro areas with access to greater living options and amenities.
  2. Recruiting Expenses: Recruiting includes the cost of finding, interviewing, vetting, onboarding, and training new hires, which can be both financially draining and an administrative burden on existing staff.
  3. Access to Top Talent: Hospitals in remote areas or in underserved communities have a harder time attracting high-quality talent, perpetuating attrition, and further depleting service capability.

The shortage of perfusionists could severely impact the OR by limiting the availability of critical patient services and threatening surgeon satisfaction. These risks even extend outside of the OR to other services like ECMO and autotransfusion. But with the right perfusion team to meet current and future needs, surgical leaders can limit their risk and keep surgeons happy.

Discover how to get highly trained perfusionists and create a staffing protocol that fits your hospital’s needs. Download out our FREE guide on accurate, sustainable perfusion staffing.

Need an expert perfusion consultation?

If you’d like an expert assessment of your perfusion needs, please get in touch with our team at SpecialtyCare. We conduct thorough reviews and provide consultation to help you know exactly what to do for proper perfusion staffing. We can also place highly trained perfusionists at your hospital according to your needs. To learn more, contact us today.