J Epidemiol. 2015; 25(4): 321–331.



No study to date has systematically examined use, expenditure, and outcomes associated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) use in Taiwan. The aim of this study was to examine ECMO use, expenditure, and outcomes during an 11-year period in Taiwan.


Claims data were collected from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database for patients who received ≥1 ECMO treatment between January 2000 and December 2010. Measurements included demographics, indications for ECMO use, length of hospital stay, outcome, and expenditure.


A total of 3969 patients received ECMO during the study period (median age: 54.6 years). The number of patients receiving ECMO increased from 52 in 2000 to 1045 in 2010. The major indication for ECMO was cardiovascular disease (68.7%), followed by respiratory disease (17.9%). Median length of hospital stay was 13 days in 2000 and 17 days in 2010. Median expenditure (New Taiwan dollars) was $604 317 in 2000 and $673 888 in 2010. Some variables significantly differed by age, sex, hospital setting, calendar year, and indication for ECMO, and were associated with in-hospital and after-discharge mortality.


ECMO use has increased dramatically in Taiwan over the last decade. The high mortality rate of ECMO users suggested that ECMO may be being used in Taiwan for situations in which it provides no added benefit. This situation may be a reflection of the current reimbursement criteria for National Health Insurance in Taiwan. Refinement of the indications for use of ECMO is suggested.

Key words: cost, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, survival, Taiwan

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