446,000+ PERFUSION CASES
Our Perfusion Services
SpecialtyCare is the largest provider of perfusion services in the U.S. Trusted by more than 400 hospitals to support 150,000 procedures, no one else even comes close. With our national presence and local clinicians, we support 1 in 8 of all heart surgeries performed in the country every year. Specializing in top tier outsourced clinical services, SpecialtyCare can help you create a program that meets all of your perfusion needs. We work seamlessly with your operating room team to increase OR efficiency, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes. We’re here to support the surgical team, but most importantly, we’re here to support the patient.
What Exactly is Perfusion?
A perfusionist is a healthcare professional who is highly trained to operate a heart-lung machine during cardiac surgery. There are many procedures that require a still heart for the surgeons to operate and this machine serves as an artificial blood pump. Surgeons rely on the perfusionist to tend to the physiological and metabolic needs of the patient so they can concentrate on making repairs. Perfusionists truly are the heart of the operation.
Want to save lives and be the heart of the operation? Work as a perfusionist with SpecialtyCare and view our career opportunities.
The heart-lung machine (also called the cardiopulmonary bypass machine) redirects the blood away from the heart and lungs, putting in oxygen to the blood and then allowing it to go back to the rest of the body. This allows the surgeons to operate on a “dead” heart. The perfusionist’s role is critical, as they are keeping the patient alive during the surgery. As a member of the surgical team, the perfusionist allows the surgeon to concentrate on the surgery while they take over the patient’s respiratory and circulatory function. Perfusionists are an extremely important safety net for the patient, as some of their tasks involve administering blood products, monitoring blood gases and ensuring that enough anticoagulation is attained.
Throughout the procedure, perfusionists keep diligent watch over the machine to make sure it is functioning correctly at all times. The perfusionist is also responsible for constant communication to the surgical team about the condition of the patient. In the event there are changes in the patient’s condition that would compromise his or her safety, the surgeon will then instruct the perfusionist to take the necessary action to help stabilize the patient. A perfusionists role prior to surgery is to attend a pre-surgery briefing with the rest of the medical team to discuss the operation. They prepare the heart-lung machine and any other equipment needed for the case and they ensure the function of each.
Listen to Checking the Vitals
In this podcast we dive deep into the healthcare space, from the people that dedicate their lives to patient care to the companies improving patient outcomes through innovation. From well-respected surgeons and thought leaders to those on the front lines of healthcare, we’ll bring you conversations with those making a difference both in the OR and beyond. Through in-depth interviews with nurses, sterile processing technicians, clinical managers, and even healthcare technology companies and startups, we’ll discuss what’s on the horizon in the industry in regards to careers, technology, and innovation.
Perfusionists and their Equipment
Perfusionists can also be responsible for putting patients on heart-assist devices. These are electronic mechanical devices that can replace the function of the heart partially or completely. These devices are sometimes used by patients awaiting heart transplant or as a bridge to the recovery stage. Perfusionists may play a supportive role in patients who are undergoing lung or liver transplants. They may also play a role in obtaining donor organs that are needed for transplant operations. It’s important to understand that while the perfusionist is responsible for operating the heart-lung machine in any of these procedures, the surgeon in charge takes final medical responsibility for the entire surgical operation. Perfusionists will draw on their training so that they become effective and efficient members of the cardiovascular surgery team. They must work with accuracy at all times and it’s essential they work well under intense pressure.
Perfusionists must have the right state of mind to be responsive to emergency situations that arise in the operating room. Things can change in a second’s notice. Perfusionists also need to have the physical stamina to still be able to function well in surgical operations that could last for several hours.
Perfusionist Working Conditions
The perfusionist is expected to be up to date with the patient’s medical history and current health status as part of any given surgical team. Before the surgery begins, the surgeon and the perfusionist will decide which techniques and circulation equipment will be used. Upon entering the operating room, the perfusionist will prepare the heart-lung machine and other necessary equipment for the specific surgery and verify everything works properly. Once the patient is connected to the machine, the perfusionist continuously monitors his or her status to control the rate of blood circulation, hemodynamics, blood composition, and temperature. The patient’s care and safety is always the top priority. The lead surgeon (along with the anesthesiology team) will direct any pharmacological and blood transfusion intervention carried out by the perfusionist. The perfusionist will remain in close communication with the surgical team to update them of the patient’s condition throughout the surgery to ensure a successful outcome.
Normally, perfusionists are scheduled to work a regular 40-hour week, but also must be on call on some nights, weekends and holidays. Call responsibilities can be rigorous depending on the program. In busier hospitals that perform a larger number of open-heart surgeries, perfusionists may work in shifts to make sure that a trained perfusionist is available around the clock.
Beyond the operating room, some experienced perfusionists can go on to teach in certification programs, work for perfusion equipment manufacturers or conduct research.
What SpecialtyCare Provides
Hospitals and networks nationwide choose us for our vast resources, excellent training program, and commitment to patients. No one leaves our training programs without extensive and thorough knowledge of the job that lies ahead of them. Our clinicians are local and experienced, and they follow all evidence-based practice guidelines for perfusion and other related procedures. In addition, we provide:
- The best-in-class equipment and supplies the industry has to offer
- Consistent hands-on management to ensure patient safety and quality
- Clinical-level data reports with benchmarking capabilities
- The opportunity to institute life support programs, destination therapy programs, hyperthermia programs, and other courses of treatment
SpecialtyCare clinicians also specialize in performing two types of life support procedures (ECLS) in and outside the OR:
Perfusionist Initiation and Consultation. SpecialtyCare will handle the setup and initial monitoring of the patient, usually for the first 24 to 48 hours. The responsibility for monitoring is later transferred to hospital personnel, typically an intensive care nurse. However, the SpecialtyCare team performs daily rounds, and standby services are available when caseloads are heavier than usual.
Perfusionist-Management Care. SpecialtyCare will set up and monitor the life support patient 24/7. This service includes all equipment and supplies.
Work With SpecialtyCare
At SpecialtyCare, our goal is to help you build an operating room of top-notch support for the patient and to provide the best possible outcome every single time. Our philosophy is based on our values and the belief that a combination of sound, standardized procedures and dedicated personal service is needed to ensure the very best in-patient care, operational efficiency, and cost management. We take an evidence-based approach that focuses on patient quality, a commitment to excellence, strict awareness to industry regulations, and continuous improvement through in-class education, training, and research. Visit our other pages to learn more about perfusion.
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Perfusionist Job Shortage in the U.S.
Right now, the healthcare industry is experiencing an extreme shortage of perfusionists. There are approximately 350,000 heart surgeries performed annually in the U.S. and not enough perfusionists entering the field. And the shortage is getting worse. A study sample of active perfusionists found that nearly 50 percent of perfusionists are over 50 years old, and there were almost 30 percent fewer new graduates entering the field than professionals leaving the field in 2015. This is why SpecialtyCare supports Thomas Jefferson University’s Institute of Emerging Health Professions Center for Perfusion and Extracorporeal Technology Education, which offers one of the most advanced perfusionist education programs available today.
SpecialtyCare supports the program through the donation of equipment and technology for Jefferson’s high-fidelity simulation lab to make sure that future perfusionists are ready to manage the extracorporeal assist devices. Our commitment to addressing the perfusionist shortage also extends to educational scholarships. SpecialtyCare provides two scholarships every year for perfusion students enrolled at Jefferson’s Center for Perfusion and Extracorporeal Technology Education or any other accredited perfusion training program in the U.S.
These scholarships are awarded in memory of Jim Brown and Gary Brukardt, two individuals with close ties to SpecialtyCare who helped evolve the perfusion practice and establish the current model for outsourced perfusion services. A perfusion career is a smart choice more than ever before. The salary is well above the national average, and the fulfillment of helping to save a patient’s life can be ever-lasting.
We Save You Costs
Standing as a leader in outsourced clinical services, we are a packaged deal. Our perfusion team saves you the cost of hiring, training, and obtaining perfusion support that may not suit your surgical needs. And our buying power in the U.S. provides you with top-of-the-line equipment and products at competitive rates from leading manufacturers, such as:
- LivaNova (formerly Sorin)
- Terumo Cardiovascular Systems