LVAD Removal Isn't Assisted Suicide, Says Mayo Clinic

A study published online in Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that in the United States withdrawing left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) at the end of a patient's life is ethical. According to the report “it is ethically and legally permissible” for physicians to comply with requests by patients (or their representatives) to “refuse or to request withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments” such as hemodialysis or artificial nutrition.

August 3, 2010

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LVAD Removal Isn't Assisted Suicide, Says Mayo Clinic

The researchers describe 14 cases where patients or their health-care surrogates requested the assist device be turned off. They say that withdrawing LVAD support isn’t the same as assisted suicide or euthanasia because there’s no “new pathology” introduced to cause death. All 14 patients died within a day of turning off the device. But their death was due to the underlying heart failure, researchers write. So assuming patients or their representative know the consequences of deactivating the device, clinicians should honor their wishes.

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