When patients experience cardiogenic shock and their hearts can no longer meet the needs of the body, physicians can contact Froedtert Hospital to activate the cardiogenic shock process, proven to improve patients’ chances of survival.

The shock process is typically launched if a patient’s blood pressure is so low that he or she needs one high-dose IV medication or two low-dose IV medications to restore adequate pressure. To activate the shock process, the referring physician calls the Froedtert & MCW Access Center at 414-805-4700.

The call is routed quickly to the physician on call from critical care anesthesia who gathers facts about the patient. The Access Center then pages a group of specialists who respond to every shock call, including members of cardiac surgery, perfusion, interventional cardiology, critical care, anesthesia and advanced heart failure, with other specialists as needed.

Within minutes, the team dials in to a conference call to discuss the patient’s needs, with each specialist weighing in to determine the best treatment. In most cases, the team will arrange to transport the patient to Froedtert Hospital for care. Thus, the coordination of care starts before the patient arrives, allowing the team to have a plan in place to rapidly and aggressively treat the patient on arrival to either the cardiovascular ICU or operating room.


Treatments may include a range of circulatory support devices, such as the Impella® or a temporary left ventricular assist device, placed surgically through an incision below the collarbone or through the carotid artery into the heart.

Patients who need more robust support may be treated with an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation system (ECMO), which pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body temporarily so the heart and lungs can rest. The ECMO Program at Froedtert Hospital is one of the busiest in the country and has achieved Silver Level designation on the Path to Excellence in Life Support by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO).

Improved Chance of Survival

Nationally, patient survival rates for cardiogenic shock have improved, ranging from 55-69% in recently published studies, but the cardiogenic shock process at Froedtert Hospital has shown even further improvement in outcomes.

With the implementation of the cardiogenic shock process at Froedtert Hospital, we are now achieving survival rates of 78%.

To improve a patient’s chances of survival, our team advises referring physicians to make shock calls early. Early activation leads to the best possible outcomes.

For Our Referring Physicians:

Academic advantage of cardiogenic shock specialists

The Froedtert & MCW health network gives patients and their referring physicians a distinct advantage.

To refer a patient and initiate the shock process at Froedtert Hospital, call the Access Center at 414-805-4700. Contact our physician liaison team for more information about our cardiogenic shock treatments or if you would be interested in meeting with any of the cardiogenic shock team members.