A perfusionist is a trained B-Tech Degree health professional,
specifically educated as a member of an open-heart, surgical team.
During cardiopulmonary bypass, the perfusionist may administer blood
products, anesthetic agents, or drugs through the extracorporeal circuit
on prescription and/or appropriate protocol. The perfusionist is
responsible for the monitoring of blood gases and the adequate
anticoagulation of the patient, induction of hypothermia, hemodilution,
and other duties, when prescribed. Perfusionists may be administratively
responsible for purchasing supplies and equipment, as well as for
personnel and departmental management. Final medical responsibility for
extracorporeal perfusion rests with the surgeon in charge.
A perfusionist operates extracorporeal circulation and autotransfusion
equipment during any medical situation where it is necessary to support or
temporarily replace the patientís circulatory or respiratory function. The
perfusionist is knowledgeable concerning the variety of equipment
available to perform extracorporeal circulation functions and is
responsible, in consultation with the physician, for selecting the
appropriate equipment and techniques to be used.
Perfusionists conduct extracorporeal circulation and ensure the safe
management of physiologic functions by monitoring the necessary variables.
Perfusion (extracorporeal circulation) procedures involve specialized
instrumentation and/or advanced life-support techniques and may include a
variety of related functions. The perfusionist provides consultation to
the physician in the selection of the appropriate equipment and techniques
to be used during extracorporeal circulation.
Perfusionists may be employed in hospitals, by surgeons, and as employees
of a group practice. They typically work during the week and are
frequently on call for emergency procedures on weekends and nights. They
also may work in an on-call system, depending on the number of
perfusionists employed by the institution.