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Michigan pH1N1 ECMO Machines Maxed Out
Recombinomics Commentary 20:30
January 3, 2014

Currently, at least a dozen adults and children — patients who previously were healthy — are on life support at the University of Michigan Health System’s hospitals due to the virus.

Three adults have died at the hospital, according to a health system spokeswoman. In December, the state reported that an infant from central Michigan had died from H1N1.

Many of the hospitalized patients were transferred to U-M from other hospitals because their flu was so severe. In addition to traditional ventilators, the U-M health system offers extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, technology for patients who can no longer breathe on their own.
The above comments describe a serious situation in Michigan.  The large number of pH1N1 patients on ECMO machines is similar to reports out of Austin, Texas last week.  One heath care system (Seton Medical Center) had adults on all five of their ECMO machines (they had one reserved for mechanical problems with any of the five in use).  At the time there had been two confirmed deaths in the area (Travis County), but the number of confirmed H1N1 cases had doubled, and another system in the city (St David’s) also had many ICU cases.  This week St David’s reported 8 H1N1 fatalities in December, which would be in addition to cases in the Seton system (see map).

In Michigan, the week 52 CDC report shows low levels of ILI in Michigan, raising concerns that UMHS will also soon be maxed out, if not already there.  They have been serving patients in Michigan as well as Indiana and Ohio because the number of EMCO machines is limited (largely due to requirements of as many as 35 professions for each EMCO patient).

The maxing out of ECMO machines in Texas and Michigan raises concerns that health care delivery will be severely taxed as the number of swine flu cases grows.

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