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Background: Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Complications and mortality are higher at lower-volume centres. Most Canadian ECLS institutions are low-volume centres. Protocols offer one way to share best practices among institutions to improve outcomes. Whether Canadian centres have ECLS protocols, and whether these protocols are comprehensive and homogenous across centres, is unknown. Methods: Purposeful sampling with mixed methods was used. A Delphi panel defined key elements relevant to the ECLS process. Documentation used in the delivery of ECLS services was requested from programs. Institutional protocols were assessed using deductive coding to determine the presence of key elements. Results: A total of 37 key elements spanning 5 domains (referral, initiation, maintenance, termination, and administration) were identified. Documentation from 13 institutions across 10 provinces was obtained. Institutions with heart or lung transplantation programs had more-complete documentation than did non-transplantation programs. Only 5 key elements were present in at least 50% of protocols (anticoagulation strategy, ventilation strategy, defined referral process, selection criteria, weaning process), and variation was seen in how institutions approached each of these elements. Conclusions: The completeness of ECLS protocols varies across Canada. Programs describe variable approaches to key elements. This variability might represent a lack of evidence or consensus in these areas and creates the opportunity for collaboration among institutions to share protocols and best practice. The key-element framework provides a common language that programs can use to develop ECLS programs, initiate quality-improvement projects, and identify research agendas.