It is legal and ethical to honor patient requests to deactivate implanted cardiac devices, and physicians should take the initiative in talking with terminally ill patients and their families about turning off the devices, according to a new expert panel consensus statement released in May.
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, or ICDs, can impose a particularly heavy burden on terminally ill patients, continuing to send electrical shocks as the patient dies.
“His defibrillator kept going off,” one family member of a dying patient told the authors of a study in the Dec. 7, 2004, Annals of Internal Medicine. “It went off 12 times in one night.”
The whole shebang.