Management of patients with ICDs at the end of life (EOL): a qualitative study.
Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
Advance Care Planning
Attitude of Health Personnel
Implantable cardioverter defibrillator shocks at the end of life are distressing and warrant consideration of implantable cardioverter defibrillator deactivation discussions. A nationwide survey collected physicians' comments regarding such discussions.
Vignettes ascertained respondents' practices regarding implantable cardioverter defibrillator deactivation discussions. Respondents' comments were analyzed to identify themes.
About 177 respondents (32%) provided 310 comments. One third reported that initiating the discussion would depend on specific circumstances, such as do not resuscitate status (35%); 21% advocated life-prolonging therapies; 17% said the patient/family or another physician should initiate the discussion; and 9% expressed inadequate education/awareness about implantable cardioverter defibrillator functions. Geriatricians and general internists expressed inadequate knowledge most frequently (12 writers, 75% in this theme), while electrophysiologists most frequently suggested further treatments/procedures (22 writers, 58%), and another doctor (13 writers, 76%) or the patient (8 writers, 62%) should begin the discussion.
Improving the end of life care for patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators will require additional physician education and increased commitment by subspecialists to deactivation discussions.