For Heart Transplant Patients, ACTA Division Achieves a Care Milestone

October 29, 2020

In late January 2020, a new protocol for the intraoperative management of heart transplant patients was implemented by the Division of Adult Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology (ACTA). Led by Dr. Jessica Spellman, Director of Clinical Operations for ACTA, the implementation of the new protocol has reduced the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) by 92%.   

ECMO is a lifesaving but aggressive technology that temporarily replaces heart and lung functions. The new protocol devised by Dr. Spellman and the ACTA team keeps heart transplant patients safe during post-transplant recovery without the use of ECMO, an enormous step forward for quality improvement. Typically, about 30% of heart transplant patients will require use of ECMO after surgery. Following implementation of ACTA's new protocol, only 2.6% of patients need ECMO. 

“Many team members contributed to the protocol design,” says Dr. Spellman, "by thinking both inside and outside the box on ways to improve patient care.”  

NYP leadership and heart failure cardiology teams have acknowledged Dr. Spellman and the ACTA division for this achievement in care quality. The institution is ranked #4 nationally by the US News and World Report for Adult Cardiac Surgery and Heart Surgery.