ICDs Can Make Death More Painful

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators can save and prolong the lives of people with irregular heart rhythms. But, reports the Washington Post, they often make the dying process more painful for those who are passing away. When a patient with an ICD is dying, the ICD may shock the patient repeatedly in a fruitless attempt to get his or her heart back to normal. The repeated shocks are often quite painful and have been likened to being kicked in the chest by a horse.

December 18, 2006

1 Min Read
ICDs Can Make Death More Painful

What needs to be done is to have the device shut off, or to disable it with a magnet in an emergency. But often during the course of one's last days, patients, families, and caregivers may forget the ICD is present. Some patients and families don't want to authorize turning off an ICD, because that's an admission that death is imminent and inevitable. And some doctors believe turning off the ICD could be an ethical violation. The solution is not to cut back on implanting the devices (as some in the article suggest), but to keep this issue at the forefront of everyone's mind when planning for a patient's passing on. That may take some re-education, but it will be worth it.

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