Do You Have a Defibrillator or a Pacemaker?

If you have, or if your loved one has, an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) or Pacemaker, you know what amazing devices these can be for saving lives.  But if you are in and end of life situation and have made the decision to cease treatments and to focus instead on palliative and comfort care, please remember to have these devices turned off.  

With some frequency, patients sign a Do Not Resuscitate form and maybe even enter hospice treatment, but no one thinks about the ICD or Pacemaker.  Leaving them on can make the dying process very painful for the patient and emotionally wrenching for the family.  Apparently, the patient’s body lurches over and over again and it feels to the person as if horses are kicking in her chest.  Far from the peaceful goodbye that we all hope for.  

So please, if you have one of these devices and have chosen to execute a DNR or to enter hospice care, talk to your medical team about turning it off.