• Rationale and Comments

    In about a quarter of patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, the defibrillator fires within weeks preceding death. For patients with advanced irreversible diseases, defibrillator shocks rarely prevent death, may be painful to patients, and are distressing to caregivers/family members. Currently there are no formal practice protocols to address deactivation; fewer than 10% of hospices have official policies. Advance care planning discussions should include the option of deactivating the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator when it no longer supports the patient’s goals.

    Sponsoring Organizations

    • American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine


    • Expert consensus


    • Cardiovascular
    • Geriatric Medicine


    • Berger JT. The ethics of deactivating implanted cardioverter defibrillators. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142:631-34.
    • Goldstein N, et al. Brief communication: management of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators in hospice: A nationwide survey. Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(5):296-9.
    • Goldstein NE, et al. Management of implantable cardioverter defibrillators in end-of-life care. Ann Intern Med. 2004;141(11):835-8.
    • Russo, J. Deactivation of ICDs at the end of life: A systematic review of clinical practices and provider and patient attitudes. Am J Nurs. 2011;111(10):26-35.